A devastating probe in the Evening Standard has recently told us the herd of white elephants which is now trampling across Brazilian football.
By any rational economic criterion, the 2014 World Cup was a disaster off the field, as well as humiliatingly on it with the 7-1 collapse against Germany. In a regime which has given us the super corrupt Joao Havelange and his equally greed ex-son-in-law Ricardo Teixeira, actually put in charge of Brazil’s World Cup organising committee before his sins were so belatedly found out and he was obliged to seek refuge elsewhere, perhaps nothing corrupt should surprise us.
Meanwhile, I cannot for a moment believe that every one of the Brazilian World Cup venues was chosen on its merits. The article describes the National Stadium in Brasilia, the capital carved out of the wilderness for grandiose rather than objective reasons – what was wrong with Rio – “as the world’s most expensive car park, now used to park buses”.
Its capacity of 72,000 was all well and good for a World Cup, but now it costs £62,000 to stage a match! Which simply and so wastefully and indeed so predictably isn’t happening. It cost £600 million to build.
Refurbishing the historic Maracana in Rio, initially built to stage the 1950 World Cup – with a gate estimated at 200,000 for the decisive Uruguay-Brazil match – cost £322 million. Its capacity is around 80,000, and it financially requires crowds of 32,000 to break even. The Flamengo club pulls in just 16,000 on average; state championship games some 3,600.
Before the World Cup draw was made, Roy Hodgson, somewhat undiplomatically expressed the hope that England would not have to play in Manaus, where the so-called Arena Di Amazonia had been so surprisingly built in a remote area at a reported cost of £200 million. So, of course, what happened was that England were required to play their opening match against Italy in that remote and mosquito haunted arena.
The stadium, with no team of significance playing there regularly, is now for sale. Its capacity is 44,000 – the average attendance for this season’s Amazonian state championships has been a ludicrous 659. While since the World Cup it has cost £1 million to run. Its choice clearly bordered on lunacy: but someone somewhere must have profited from it surely, as in so many other of the grotesque instances.
The Arena Pernambuco in Recife cost £155 million to build: it is now holding out a virtual begging bowl: weddings, corporate functions even birthday parties are accommodated. An American football match drew all of 7,000 spectators.
The dire list goes on and suspiciously on. All credit to Matt Majendie for compiling it.