With less than two weeks to go before the 2014 World Cup kicks off in São Paulo, rarely has a nation’s tournament preparations come under more scrutiny than Brazil for this summer’s footballing showpiece.
Demonstrators have been flooding the streets of the country’s biggest cities since June last year, let’s see why in this week’s special edition of ‘The Corner’.
The protests began on June 6 last year, with a small rally against a rise in São Paulo bus fares. Over two weeks they turned into a nationwide outpouring of dismay with demonstrators accusing the government of spending billions on new stadiums and not enough on affordable housing.
In May, disgruntled bus employees added further chaos when they went on strike over pay and clashed with police.
Brazil promised a host of projects in conjunction with the World Cup to improve its roads and airports, but the country has struggled to finish essential ones such as stadiums.
Earlier this week, reports claimed that the Arena Corinthians in São Paulo, which will host the tournament’s opening game between Brazil and Croatia, will not be completely finished when the World Cup begins.
Part of the roof at the 55,000-seater stadium has been left incomplete due to severe construction delays.
On May 20, part of the ceiling of the airport in Manaus collapsed after heavy rains in the host city.
Manaus – where England open up their World Cup campaign against Italy on June 14 – is located in the middle of the Amazon rainforest, and access to the city is primarily via boat or airplane.
Food confiscated from Italy hotel
The Italian team’s hotel has had out-of-date food confiscated from it by Brazilian health and safety officials.
Health inspectors discovered some 50 kilograms of food deemed unfit for consumption at the Portobello Hotel in Rio, which will be the temporary residence of the Azzuri for the duration of the competition.
The affected products included meat, seafood and pasta – 25 kgs of the total 50 had passed its expiry date.
The hotel has 15 days to explain the situation to the consumer protection organisation which will then decide on what measures to take.
It is estimated that one million fans will travel to Brazil during the tournament. Some may be at risk as scientists have sent out early warnings about the chances of an outbreak of dengue fever.
Brazil recorded more cases of dengue fever than anywhere else in the world between 2000 and 2013, with more than seven million cases reported.
The three cities with the greatest chance of high dengue risk are Natal, Fortaleza, and Recife.
Brazil’s Defence Ministry has reportedly deployed 30,000 troops along its borders due to expected increase in illegal immigration as well as drugs and arm smuggling during the World Cup.
Peruvian authorities allege that around 578 kilos of cocaine found buried in the jungle were destined for sale during the tournament.
According to the United Nations, Peru has overtaken Colombia to become the world’s biggest producer of coca and cocaine.
The news will be of real concern to World Cup organisers, but law enforcement authorities immediately reacted by saying it was highly unlikely drug related issues would affect the tournament and that football fans should not be deterred from visiting the country this summer.