Only three years away from the ofﬁcial start of 2014 World Cup but Brazil still has a lot to do in order to make the country ready to host one of the most important sports events in the world.
Widely discussed in Brazil, the preparations for the World Cup are a very touchy subject in the country. If a common Brazilian citizen is asked whether he thinks Brazil will be ready in time, he will probably answer “yes”, but he will also probably want to add a few comments to that apparently simple answer.
The host cities and the stadiums have been chosen and the government, through strong words of president Dilma Rousseff, is showing a lot of commitment to make the World Cup an unforgettable event for both tourists and the Brazilian people, who expect that the changes and improvements made in the country will stay for long.
However, the reason why Brazilians – and the rest of the world – are so worried about Brazil hosting the next World Cup is because the country has a bad reputation when it comes to corruption, especially when mixing both public and private investments.
It is not news for anyone that there are massive delays in the construction of stadiums and that most of the Brazilian airports are in very bad condition and need urgent improvements. Also, the transport system – and even the staff that are currently working in touristic attractions in the country – are still not speciﬁcally ready to receive the amount of tourists that are due to attend the World Cup in 2014.
Former president Lula da Silva used to say that the government would make any necessary sacriﬁces to ensure that Brazil can organise and deliver a successful World Cup. The new president Dilma Rousseff, elected with Lula’s support, states that everything is going well so far but if the government needs to step in and invest more money in the World Cup, she won’t even hesitate. Her term started last January and it ends exactly in 2014, when Brazil will face new presidential elections. The success – or failure – of the World Cup organisation can be determinant for Dilma’s eventual re-election bid.
However, the main decisions concerning the World Cup organisation are not down to the Brazilian government. The main role in this whole process will be played by Brazilian Confederation of Football’s (CBF) president Ricardo Teixeira, who has been head of the institution for more than two decades now and has recently become the president of the 2014 World Cup Organizing Comitee. Mr Teixeira is also a very inﬂuential member of FIFA’s Executive Comitee and has recently been involved in a lot of controversy regarding accusations of corruption.
In a recent interview given to Brazilian magazine Piaui, Mr Teixeira has shown what most of the Brazilian media and public – and the international media – already knows, that he is a controversial character, rude, cynical and very pretentious, believing himself to be above the law.
Whenever Mr Teixeira is confronted with corruption allegations against him and/or eventual problems going on with the World Cup organisation, he immediately tries to disqualify what has been said by giving his own (“dodgy”) version of the facts. Also, Mr Teixeira is in a particular war against part of the Brazilian media. However, he says he will only worry about accusations against him when they are aired by Brazilian TV Globo’s Jornal Nacional, the television news that 60% of Brazilians watch every night. Mr Teixeira likes to say that all the other Brazilian channels or newspapers that don’t belong to Globo Network “got peanuts in number of viewers”. The Brazilian football chief says that “the more I take a beating from Record (the second biggest TV channel in Brazil), the better I’ll come off on Globo.”
Combined with the problems Mr Teixeira has with Brazilian media, now he is starting to become hated internationally aswell. Ex-FA chairman Lord Triesman has accused Mr Teixeira of asking him for bribes to back up England’s unsuccessful bid to become the hosts of 2018 World Cup. In addition, the BBC’s show Panorama has accused Mr Teixeira of illegally receiving bribes from the collapsed FIFA marketing agency ISL, back in the late 90s.
In response to these allegations, Teixeira told Piaui magazine that Triesman is only accusing him “because they had lost the bid”. Mr Teixeira also likes to remind that the former FA chairman is also “having to explain how he spent 50 million dollars on England’s bid”, as he considers that “there isn’t any justiﬁcation for it” and that is is “an absurd cost, because we only spent 3 million Reais (around U$ 1.8m) and we got 2014”.
The reply to the BBC was more bitter than that and it came almost a month ago, at the preliminary draw for World Cup Qualiﬁers in Rio de Janeiro. Questioned why he wouldn’t speak to the English press at all, Mr Teixeira simply – and rudely – replied saying “because the English press is corrupt”.
Thus, and whether we like him or not, this is Ricardo Teixeira, FIFA EXCO member, CBF’s president for more than 20 years and also president of the 2014 World Cup Organizing Comittee. A powerful yet very controversial man who actually believes himself to be above the law. It is down to him, more then anyone else, that the next World Cup will be either a great success or a resounding failure.
To sum up his persona I will reproduce the last statement of his interview to Piaui magazine:
“In 2014, I’ll be able to get away with anything. The most slippery, unthinkable, Machiavellian things. Denying press credentials, barring access, changing game schedules. And you know what? Nothing’ll happen. You know why? Because in 2015 I’m out of here. Then it’ll all be over.”
by Eduardo Pagnoncelli