The World Cup kicks off in Brazil on June 12 and the government hoped the world’s most popular tournament would propel Natal, a city on the Atlantic coast, to become a tourist destination. The government promised $1.3 billion in new infrastructures.
Half of the developments never even started construction. According to Reuters, the money was supposed to build a new arena, “a light rail network, a new hospital, a beachfront facelift and wheelchair-friendly sidewalks.” Natal only has the arena and an airport. Fernando Mineiro, a state assemblyman with the leftist Workers’ Party, bluntly told Reuters: “Natal failed to deliver.”
But is it fully Natal’s fault? Brazil is a soccer country and told FIFA that 12 cities would host games instead of the usual eight. This meant Brazil had to reach out to cities with major problems–crime and corruption being two–incapable of hosting a tournament such as the World Cup. “Things haven’t gone quite as predicted,” José Aldemir Freire, a government economist, told Reuters. “There were some investments, yes, but not on the scale expected.”
Freire’s comments do not come close to properly describing the quite-predictable mess in Natal. Estimates for the stadium came in at $180 million, but builders said the stadium Natal wanted could not be built on that budget. The architects scaled back, but it turns out the state will reimburse loans and fees at $900 million. The airport might not even be ready by June 12.
But it is not just Natal. The prime cities suffered many setbacks. According to Reuters, a bullet train between Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo never left the drawing board and a rail line in Cuiabá will not be finished until after the tournament. Yes, it was meant for the World Cup, but tourists will not be able to use it.
FIFA required stadiums to be finished by the end of December and reports said six missed the deadline. At first, FIFA and Brazil officials attempted to refute the numbers, but eventually admitted stadiums would not be finished. The majority of the delays are caused by accidents and some of those ended in deaths. In November, a crane collapsed in São Paolo and killed two workers.
Brazil also has to worry about anarchy groups such as Black Bloc and protesters. Brazil has the seventh-highest homicide rate in the world and only 8% of the crimes are solved. The corruption is so bad that some people rely on Black Bloc because no one can trust the police. The Confederations Cup, which is seen as a World Cup warm-up, was canceled due to massive protests. People are upset over the lavish spending for the Cup and believe it should go towards public services.
This is not the last time stories like this will pop up. Rio hosts the 2016 Summer Olympics.