Brazil Suffers Setbacks In Lead Up To World Cup
ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:
Now to soccer's biggest tournament and a series of setbacks in advance of next summer's World Cup. From Sao Paulo, NPR's Lourdes Garcia-Navarro reports on the drumbeat of bad news and embarrassment that it's causing the host country, Brazil.
LOURDES GARCIA-NAVARRO, BYLINE: There is no question Brazil knows how to throw a party.
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GARCIA-NAVARRO: Yesterday, a star-studded event broadcast live in Brazil showcased the new official World Cup soccer ball named the Brazuca, a Portuguese slang word for a Brazilian. The sound and light show in Rio de Janeiro dazzled. But slick showmanship aside, there is more bad news than good regarding Brazil's preparedness to host the World Cup.
Yesterday, Brazil announced three out of the 12 World Cup stadiums won't meet their FIFA deadlines.
ANDRE CARDOSO: (Through translator) Brazil's preparation has been embarrassing. It isn't delivering everything that was promised and it isn't delivering at the deadline, which irritates FIFA, and it shows we are not totally ready to host such a big event.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: That's Andre Cardoso, the sports editor at the newspaper O Estado de San Paulo's news wire.
And this is just the latest snafu. This Friday's World Cup draw has been embroiled in controversy over whether or not the last minute replacement of two white hosts for two black ones was racist. A Sao Paulo judge is now actually investigating the issue. Last week, a massive crane collapsed at the stadium that will be hosting the opening game of the cup. The accident killed two workers.
Equally worrying to organizers have been the security concerns in Rio in particular. Last month there, gangs of youths swarmed over the tourist beaches in mass robberies. Add to that the possibility of massive protests by an angry public that has had to finance the hugely expensive construction of the stadiums and you have a litany of woes that isn't showing Brazil in its best light.
Cardoso says the instead of showing how far Brazil has come, the World Cup is displaying how far Brazil has yet to go.
CARDOSO: (Through translator) In 2007 when we bid for the games, there was an optimism, a desire to prove Brazil was a first world country, that it was growing, becoming a world power, and the reality is not quite that. The reality will be something worse than that world of dreams that was promised.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: Brazil's sports minister in response to criticisms over delays told the press here today: I've never seen bride be on time.
The good news: Brazilians were surprised by their team's performance in last summer's Confederations Cup. And they believe that no matter how the organization of the games turns out, they have a real chance of taking home the trophy.
Lourdes Garcia-Navarro, NPR News, Sao Paulo.
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