The World Cup in the state of Rio de Janeiro is under threat after Brazil’s congress passed legislation that would take away 6% of the states budget in a redistribution of the country’s oil revenues. The law, which will certainly be challenged legally, takes some of the money that previously went to Rio and gives it to non-oil producing states and towns. State governor Sergio Cabral warned that Rio could not host the World Cup or Olympic games if the budget is slashed. Cue ominous music.
“It’s absolutely not viable,” Cabral told reporters in Brasilia today. “We are going to close our doors. We won’t do the Olympics, we won’t do the Cup.”
Luckily, the bill is not yet law. After passing the lower house of congress yesterday, it still requires President Dilma Roussef’s signature to go into effect. The oil-producing states claim the law is a breach of contract and violates the Brazilian constitution; if that’s the case, Roussef certainly won’t sign it into law.
But the potential loss of money for Rio is just one of the many problems still facing Brazil for the upcoming World Cup. Investigations into spending at stadiums around the country are popping up, as authorities become concerned about misappropriation of public money and cost overruns.
Those overruns are happening despite some stadiums running dangerously behind schedule to be completed in time for World Cup 2014. Yesterday, FIFA announced the six host cities for the 2013 Confederations Cup; of the six venues, only two (Belo Horizonte and Fortaleza) will be ready for testing on the original cutoff date, six months before the June 15th kickoff. Delays have forced FIFA to push back the December 15, 2012 deadline to April 15, 2013. While authorities are projecting confidence that all of the stadiums will be by that date, they admit the situation is far from what they’d hoped it would be.
There is no backup plan.
“Today, it’s a point of no return,” FIFA communications director Walter de Gregorio said at the announcement in Sao Paulo.
“There’s no way back. It’s a huge challenge. The timeframe is very tight. In a way we’re very happy we found a solution, but I have to make it very clear as well that we are still concerned because we are not able to have the stadiums as it was planned from the very beginning.”
“There is no Plan B because we are convinced this is the date,” said Gregorio.
“If we weren’t convinced they will be ready for April, we wouldn’t have announced the six host cities. We are 100 percent convinced we can all deliver together.”
A recent album posted to imgur.com illustrates just how far from completion some of Brazil’s planned venues still are. Seven of the twelve are listed as “in alert” or “in danger.”
Really starting to get the feeling that this won’t end well.