According to Ilan Goldfajn, chief economist of the Brazilian Itaú Unibanco Holding, Latin America’s largest bank by market value, the three-year build-up to the 2014 soccer World Cup is set to boost Brazil’s economy by 1.5% of GDP.
Brazil has budgeted US$ 20.6 billion to build the roads, stadiums, airports and other projects required to host sport’s most-watched event. That level of investment will create 250,000 new jobs and generate about US$ 24 billion, Ilan Goldfajn told reporters at a press briefing in Rio de Janeiro.
“The impact of the spending both on infrastructure and spending by the private sector produces 1 percent of GDP, the rest comes from the multiplier effect,” Goldfajn said. Itaú is an official World Cup sponsor.
Germany, which hosted the 2006 event, and last year’s host South Africa saw GDP increases of 0.5% during the World Cup year, according to FIFA and government figures.
Brazil is hosting the World Cup for the second time after staging the competition in 1950. It’s facing some of the same questions that organizers in South Africa faced in the years leading up to the 2010 event, the first time the quadrennial competition was held on African soil.
Work hasn’t been completed on any of Brazil’s 12 stadiums slated to host games, airports must be renovated to cope with the demands of moving millions of visitors and the country’s hotel inventory needs to be expanded.
Stadiums in São Paulo, Natal, Cuiabá and Porto Alegre are behind schedule because of financing and engineering concerns. Brazil also faces scrutiny about crime, as did South Africa.
Brazil is determined to be ready and prove its doubters wrong, said Rodrigo Paiva, spokesman for the Rio de Janeiro-based local organizing committee. “During the World Cup in South Africa there were no cases of violence, rape, robbery or burglary specific to the tournament” said Paiva.
He added that the World Cup is a catalyst to complete necessary infrastructure work ahead of schedule.
“It’s not that we’re building airports and we wouldn’t consider renovating roads,” he said. “With the existence of the World Cup this process speeds up some construction work that could have taken 25 or 30 years to do.”
Rio’s famous Maracanã stadium will host the final of the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke indicated Thursday, pending formal ratification of the decision at FIFA executive committee meeting in October.
The giant arena is famous for having hosted the deciding match of the World Cup in 1950, when Brazil was stunned 2-1 by Uruguay. “The final is already certain, even though we think that lots of other cities could have hosted this match,” said Valcke.
“This stadium already hosted the final 61 years ago. What we have to decide now is where the semi-finals and the opening match will take place”. Following Valcke’s comments, FIFA stressed the decision was not yet official.
“No official decision has been taken,” FIFA communications director Nicolas Maingot told reporters. The stadium was built as the centerpiece of the 1950 tournament, which saw some 200,000 people cram in to see Brazil suffer a shock final loss to Uruguay.
Since then, Brazilians refer to such shock defeats as a ‘Maracanaço’.
It was only in 1958, inspired by a teenage Pelé in Sweden, that Brazil lifted the first of their record five World Cup crowns.
The Maracanã was the scene for Pelé’s 1000th career goal, a penalty, for Brazilian outfit Santos against Vasco de Gama on 19 November 1969.
He also netted his first goal for the national side at the venue, in a 2-1 loss to Argentina in July, 1957. The race to get 12 venues ready for three years time is posing a monumental logistical challenge for Brazil.
In particular, the process of giving the Maracanã in downtown Rio a massive facelift has been a daily topic of conversation among fans as the bill has risen inexorably, though the official estimate is some 700 million dollars.
Vying with Rio for the honor of hosting the trophy match were São Paulo, Brasília, Belo Horizonte and Salvador. The World Cup will open on June 12, 2014 and end on July 13.
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