All Things Considered Goes To Brazil

The country will host the World Cup next year for the first time since 1950. Host Rachel Martin speaks with NPR's Melissa Block, host of All Things Considered, about the launch of a series of stories from Brazil.

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RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

We're going now to Brazil. That's where we find ALL THINGS CONSIDERED host Melissa Block. She's working on a series of stories that will air starting tomorrow. She joins me now from the city of Recife, along the Atlantic Coast in northeastern Brazil with a preview of her series. Hi, Melissa.

MELISSA BLOCK, BYLINE: Hey, Rachel.

MARTIN: So, you are on the coast right now, on the beach. Is that right?

BLOCK: Yeah. I'm on the beach here. I'm actually watching a game of foot volley - in Portuguese, futevolei. It's young men with a soccer ball. It's kind of like beach volleyball, but you can't use your hands. So, you're using your feet or your head or your chest to launch soccer ball over net. And, Rachel, we are nine months away from the World Cup of soccer. It's being held in Brazil for the first time since 1950. And there are stadiums being built or renovated in 12 cities all over the country. And one of them is right outside Recife. It's about 12 miles away, and that's one of the reasons that we came up here.

MARTIN: And I imagine a big question you're exploring is whether or not Brazil is going to be ready for the World Cup, right?

BLOCK: Yeah, that's the story that's going to be on ALL THINGS CONSIDERED tomorrow. I went out to that brand new stadium I mentioned, Rachel, called the Arena Pernambuco. Here's a little bit of a promotional video that was put out by the Brazil 2014 team:

(SOUNDBITE OF PROMOTIONAL VIDEO)

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: (Foreign language spoken)

BLOCK: So, Rachel, the narrator there talking about the stadium, how they're spending, you know, it's about $250 million to build it. It seats 46,000 people. I got to go out and stand right next to the field and look around. That stadium is ready to go. They've already played some club games there. But for other World Cup venues, it's a really different story. They're still being built, they're behind schedule, and they're racing against the clock.

MARTIN: And that's just the stadiums. I mean, there are so many people who descend on the location of the World Cup. What's the story with other infrastructure?

BLOCK: Yeah, that's a huge problem. How do you get those hundreds of thousands of fans to the games? Roads here are often in terrible shape, airports are antiquated, there's sometimes really bad public transportation. So, Brazil is supposed to spend billions on upgrades to infrastructure, but it's still really an open question about whether those projects will be done in time for the Cup. Remember that Rio is also hosting the Olympics in 2016. So, what about hotel space? And there is just a lot of popular anger over the costs and corruption involved in these projects. There have been huge street protests, demonstrators demanding, you know, why is the government spending all this money on these gigantic projects instead of building what we really need, which is new schools and hospitals? There is one sign at the protests earlier this year that said: When your kid gets sick, take him to the stadium.

MARTIN: Melissa Block's week-long series of reports from Brazil starts tomorrow on ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. You could also check out her stories at ConsideringBrazil.tumblr.com. Melissa, thanks so much.

BLOCK: You're welcome, Rachel.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

MARTIN: This is NPR News.

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