Brazil 2014 World Cup preparations on track say organisers

Brazilian football player Neymar
Image caption Favourites Brazil surprisingly lost the Olympic Football final to Mexico earlier this month

In less than one year Brazil will play to host to the Confederations Cup football tournament, the traditional warm-up event for the World Cup, which will take place in the country in 2014.

By next June organisers need to have six stadiums ready for the two-week event, as well as the surrounding infrastructure and communications network in place.

There have been some voices of criticism about the preparations, including from former football legend Romario, a 1994 World Cup winner-turned-politician.

But the man in charge of delivering the two events is confident that everything is on track.

"We are really in a good position, we are moving forward well - I am talking not only about the World Cup, but also the Confederations Cup next year," says Ricardo Trade, operations director of the 2014 World Cup local organising committee.

"We are closely monitoring how work is progressing in the stadiums in the 12 [World Cup host] cities; and we are very confident about the work programme in these cities.

"We are also closely liaising with Fifa, as they are helping us to build these stadiums for the two events, and producing constant feedback and monitoring reports on progress so far."

Mr Trade - who estimates the World Cup will inject 112.8bn reais (£36bn; $56bn) into the Brazilian economy by 2014 - says city, state, and, increasingly, federal authorities, are also working closely with event organisers.

"They are all working to improve the infrastructure of our cities and of our country for the World Cup and Confederations Cup," he said.

"It is not our role, but we are monitoring the infrastructure progress in each city, as well as at the stadiums".

'Functioning correctly'

Mr Trade estimates that some 22.4bn reais (£7bn: $11bn) is being invested in World Cup infrastructure projects, such as the stadiums, roads, airports and public transport.

Image caption Mr Trade says there is constant scrutiny of the stadium development programme

On the actual running of the World Cup, he is also in frequent talks with Fifa and the operators of the 12 stadiums "to ensure that this complex structure functions correctly".

Mr Trade is looking to establish common policy across the dozen venues in the areas of hospitality, medical services, marketing, the press, TV, security, accreditation, technology, transport, logistics and cleaning.

The organisers' relationship with Fifa in the past has been somewhat rocky, with the world football governing body having raised concerns about delays in stadium renovation.

However, last month Fifa sounded more emollient when it reported on the progress of work in the stadiums, the roads, and the airports.

"There is still a lot to do but we are on the good track, and there are currently no stadiums in the red," said Fifa.

One continued infrastructure worry though is the state of progress on upgrading Brazil's airport network, essential in such a large country and one where there is no established rail network.

Of 13 terminals being upgraded, 10 are unlikely to be completed by June 2014, a government-backed Institute for Applied Economic Research report said this spring.

"As I mentioned, this is not our responsibility, but we are confident they will be ready on time," asserts Mr Trade.

'Important guy'

Meanwhile, World Cup legend Romario has criticised the finances around the tournament, and also questioned whether the capital Brasilia needs such a huge, 75,000 seater stadium.

The former forward, now a member of Brazil's Chamber of Deputies, says the arena will never see a big football game again after 2014.

Image caption Romario has been asking questions about the staging of the World Cup

"It is not my position to talk about Romario, he is a very important guy," says Mr Trade.

However, he says that a lot of "good stadiums" have been built in Brazil that were not used only for football, but for other sports and activities too.

"Maybe that is the solution they will use here," Mr Trade says.

And he insists that organisers are "not going to abandon stadiums" after the World Cup, but that they will be taken over by operating companies after the 2014 event.

In Rio, where the finals of both the Confederations Cup and World Cup will be hosted, he says there is the "challenge" of renovating the iconic Maracana stadium, "a major part of the country's football heritage".

'Not just Rio and Sao Paulo'

At another World Cup host city, Belo Horizonte, they are digesting the lessons learnt on a recent visit to study the operations of the London Olympics.

"I was very impressed by the work of the volunteers," says the city's World Cup executive co-ordinator Flavia Rohlfs.

Image caption Flavia Rohlfs has been in London to study how the Olympic Games operated

"They were everywhere and I liked the way they were constantly asking people if they were OK."

The city has not posed any problems for Fifa when it comes to the preparation of their stadium, and Ms Rohlfs says work is also progressing well on transport preparations.

A three-line bus rapid transit (BRT) system is being build, and two new roads.

The city's main international airport is being upgraded to handle more passengers, as is the secondary airport in order to handle more charter and domestic passengers.

And Mr Trade says that tourism across the entire country can flourish during the World Cup

"We want to show that our country can receive far more visitors than it does at present," he says.

"We want people to visit not just Rio and Sao Paulo, but all 12 cities."

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