Stare long enough at the logo for the 2014 World Cup and it can look like a man holding his head in his hands – a feeling that many involved in the tournament have shared at one time of another.
Brazil’s Ronaldo, the World Cup’s record goal scorer, recently declared himself indignant and ashamed of aspects of the way the competition has been organized – and he is a prominent member of the Local Organizing Committee.
How did the 2014 World Cup, theoretically the dream marriage between international football’s biggest competition and its most frequent winner, turn in to such a headache?
1. The absence of competition to stage the tournament. In March 2003, FIFA president Sepp Blatter announced that the 2014 World Cup would go to South America.
Conmebol, the continent’s football federation, almost immediately bowed to the inevitable and announced that Brazil was its only candidate.
It isn’t true, then, that Brazil had seven years to prepare. The truth is that it had 11.
Years had been wasted – throw in several doses of traditional Brazilian bureaucracy, and it was clear that the 2014 project would have problems.
2. The second mistake was that, in huge contrast with the South African experience, for years there was no government representation on the Local Organizing Committee. The head of Brazil’s football association doubled up as LOC president, an unprecedented accumulation of powers, in, it must be said, the thoroughly incompetent hands of Ricardo Teixeira – who resigned and scuttled off to Miami just over two years ago when he was facing accusations of corruption.
The lack of governmental involvement is now recognised as an error, at least by Luis Fernandes, the Ministry of Sports representative who has been on the LOC since 2012.
“There is no way you can stage an event like this,” he says, “not just in Brazil but anywhere in the world, without the presence of the public power. Because the operational plans, security, public transport, energy, health services, all are dependent on the state.”
3. The third mistake was that the support of the Brazilian people was totally, even cynically, taken for granted. Teixeira told them that all of the money spent on stadiums would be from private sources, leaving public investments for much-needed infrastructure improvements. But how could this possibly be true when at least four of the stadiums would seem to have very limited economic viability after the tournament? Where would this private money come from?
Of course, it has almost all come from state coffers. So the protests and opposition to the tournament should be no surprise.
Tim Vickery is a South American football correspondent for the BBC and Brazilian football expert.