It is a tradition for the World Cup’s next host country to lay out its plans and present the emblem of the next event even before the final games of the World Cup. So, Thursday, June 9, with the South African World Cup final games to take place this weekend, Brazilian president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva arrived in South Africa and presented the 2014 official emblem.
The logo was designed by a Brazilian ad agency based on a photo of three hands holding the World Cup trophy (what it looks like are abstract yellow and green upstretched hands (or waves, maybe green palm trees) holding a soccer ball with 2014 written in red).
Then Lula told the world that the 2014 games in Brazil will place information regarding expenditures and contracts on the Internet for all to see. And he added that the expectation was that spending on infrastructure would be fundamental in boosting development in the country.
“The preparations will be as transparent as possible. I have already signed two decrees. All government acts will be available on the Internet, it will be possible for any citizen, anywhere in the world, to accompany what is being done in real time,” said the president.
“Our World Cup will be green. Green like our forests. Environmental sustainability is a priority in Brazil and it will be trademark of the event, which we see as a great opportunity to accelerate infrastructure growth for the world and the development of our Brazil,” said Lula, adding that a detailed blueprint laying out the necessary preparations for the games, involving federal and state governments, and the twelve cities that will host soccer games, has already been approved.
In his speech, Lula heaped praise on the South African games. “There was force, joy, creativity and competence in the organization. We, Brazilians, are pleased with the extraordinary success of the African Cup,” declared Lula, adding that it will serve as an example for Brazil.
“We are a nation with a passion for sports and a passion for soccer. We are a nation passionately in love with life. We believe that although life is marvelous, it can always be better,” said Lula.
Lula has been in Africa for a week, visiting six countries (Cabo Verde, Equatorial Guinea, Kenya, Tanzania, Zambia and, finally, South Africa). The original schedule was for Lula to end his trip by attending the World Cup final on Sunday, July 11. It is normal for the leader of the country hosting the next World Cup to be there.
But with Brazil’s unexpected loss to Holland and elimination, aides say Lula is no longer enthusiastic about seeing the game and may return to Brazil as early as Friday.
No matter what, the fact is that after the Sunday game, the World Cup soccer ball will cross the Atlantic to Brazil, “where the Brazilian people will treat it with the same love and care that our players treat the soccer ball on the pitch,” said Lula.
World Cup Costs
On Monday, after the final games in South Africa, the 2014 World Soccer Cup will really belong to Brazil. It is a good idea, at this moment, to look at how things unfolded in the Rainbow Nation.
The final cost of stadium building and renovation in South Africa came out at around ten times original estimates. The original estimate was made in 2003, and was US$ 370 million reais. In 2006, a new estimate was US$ 1.9 billion. The final cost was double the high estimate, US$ 3.8 billion, according to the South African treasury.
Renovations at one stadium, Ellis Park, in Johannesburg, cost 400% more than the original estimate. Another, Green Point, a new and modern stadium in Capetown, cost almost 200% more than planned.
The main builder and financier was the South African government and there was not sufficient control, says Barry Pollen, director of an oversight organization called Stadium Management. “There were delays. Then things had to be speeded up, which means more costs,” he explains.
“Construction is already behind in Brazil. There is a risk of extra costs if there are more delays,” Pollen warns. “Projects should have been ready two years ago. There are cities [in Brazil] that still do not know where the games will take place…. When construction does begin, the builders will want to charge more in order to meet deadlines.”
The South African stadiums were beautiful, modern venues for high-level international soccer games. There may be a few complaints about the referees and some of the results (Brazilians terribly downcast and upset about their team’s early exit), but no one could find fault with the stadiums.
However, according to soccer businessmen (and soccer is a very big business), those wonderful stadiums cost too much and have seating capacities way beyond any future necessity. And for those reasons, they may turn out to be financially unsustainable after the World Cup.
Barry Pollen, director of a South African company that manages stadiums (Stadium Management), points out that five of the six new stadiums (four were renovations) are located in cities that do not have soccer, or even rugby, teams.
The care and future maintenance of the stadiums should be in the hands of sports clubs that will use them and be able to pay the costs, he says. Those costs are estimated, for the smaller World Cup stadiums, at around US$ 2.3 million annually.
The stadiums also need to be modified to house space for conventions, shows, expositions or even a hotel, says Pollen, adding that such facilities would mean more revenue.
Meanwhile, the president of the South African soccer league, Kjetil Siem, says there simply are no clubs in the country able to foot the costs of stadium upkeep … certainly not the big, modern World Cup stadiums.
He points out that the average attendance at South African soccer league games is 11,000. Siem says that it looks like the South African government will have to pay the upkeep costs at least for some years. “Over time, with the modern, comfortable and safe stadiums, it may be that more fans will go to the games,” he adds hopefully.
South African Siphathisiwe Mahlansu used to sell telephones, but she lost that job in January. At the end of June she was given a temporary job as a security guard at the Soccer City stadium. “It is not the best job in the world, but it is something,” she said, resignedly.
Her job was one of 35,000 direct but temporary jobs created in South Africa as a result of the need for World Cup game security. Even so, an employment index (produced by a prestigious firm called Adcorp) found that unemployment actually rose by 6.2% between April and May in South Africa, that is, just before the games began.
The reason was the loss of jobs in construction as stadium building came to an end and workers were laid off. The Adcorp index just showed that a bad situation had gotten worse. The World Cup ran from June 11 to July 11.
Official unemployment in South Africa is 25.2%, as reported by the government statistics bureau. Before the 2009 world financial crisis, it was 21.9%. Richard Pike, president of Adcorp, says the unemployment index is going to rise even more in the near future.
Meanwhile, Gillian Saunders, of the consultancy firm, Grant Thornton, which FIFA contracted to survey the economic situation in South Africa during the World Cup, says the games did have a positive impact on the job market creating a total of 174,000 jobs.
It should be pointed out that most of these jobs were created over a five-year period, lasting only a part of that period and many of them have disappeared now. Saunders does make a point when he says that even temporary work in stadium construction, for example, involved training. “These are people who are now better prepared to get work after the World Cup,” he says.
Meanwhile, Siphathisiwe knows that after the final game on Sunday she will have to find another job. She hopes her experience at Soccer City will help. “I have to find work. Anything will do,” she says.
With an increase of 0.3%, compared to April, and 4.2%, compared to May 2009, the number of jobs in the Brazilian industrial sector rose for the fifth consecutive month in May 2010. According to the government statistical bureau (IBGE), new jobs were created in all fourteen locations it surveyed, with the biggest jump in São Paulo, up 3.3%.
São Paulo is the state that proudly calls itself the country’s locomotive, because that is where 40% of the Brazilian industrial sector is located.
The biggest job increases occurred in the machinery, electro-electronic home appliances and communications equipment sector (up 8.7%), textile (up 10.3%) and food and beverages (3.1%).
The second biggest increase of jobs was in the Northeast, led by footwear and leather sector (up 15.4%) and food and beverages (7%).