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Will Brazil miss the goal with 2014 World Cup?

Brazilians are concerned that mismanagement of the World Cup and the Olympics Games will squander the country's chance to build needed infrastructure and improve government.

By Andrew DownieCorrespondent / November 12, 2012

Workers plant grass during renovations of the Mineirao Stadium for the 2014 World Cup in Belo Horizonte November 9.

Washington Alves/Reuters

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Sao Paulo, Brazil

Brazil has had five years to ready itself for the 2014 World Cup and in that time officials have made the same two promises over and over.

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“The event will have total transparency,” said former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva. “We are going to put on an unforgettable World Cup. That’s the commitment. You can hold us to it.”

“There won’t be one cent of public money used to build stadiums,” added his Sports Minister Orlando Silva.

With soccer’s biggest event less than 600 days away, those promises ring increasingly hollow. Nine of the 12 arenas are being built with public money and the three government websites set up to monitor costs and progress and provide information that is incomplete, contradictory, or out of date.

Brazilians are growing concerned that mismanagement of the World Cup, and the Olympics Games that follow, will squander the country's chance to build needed infrastructure and improve government in a nation that pays first world tax rates but gets third world services in return.

“The 12 host cities [of the World Cup] are not currently accountable,” Paulo Itacarambi, Vice President of Brazilian transparency group Instituto Ethos, said last week at the 15th International Anti-Corruption Conference. “This was supposed to be a moment of unity. This was an opportunity for mobilization.”

A lot has gone right in Brazil in recent years. The economy of the fifth largest nation has expanded quickly in recent years, thanks largely to a growing domestic market and abundant natural resources. More than 30 million people have left poverty and joined the consuming middle classes. The hosting of the World Cup in 2014 and the Olympic Games in Rio de Jeneiro in 2016 were meant to showcase Brazil's arrival as a major player on the global stage. 

What will be gained?

However, some Brazilians are starting to question if the government can live up to that lofty image and, if not, what exactly they will gain from the events other than a few weeks of fun. 

That is particularly the case with the World Cup, which will take place in a dozen Brazilian cities over four weeks. Five years after Brazil was chosen to host the event, officials have yet to declare how much it will all cost.

The preliminary price tag was set at 27.1 billion reais (around $13.5 billion at today’s exchange rate), but does not include spending in sectors such as policing, telecommunications, and accommodation.

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