England manager Roy Hodgson has warned that teams competing at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil face “enormous logistical problems” that threaten to overshadow the tournament.
With five World Cup victories and a host of legendary players, Brazil is widely regarded as one of soccer’s traditional heartlands and a deserving host of the international game’s showpiece event.
However, it will be the first time Brazil has staged the World Cup since 1950 and Hodgson is concerned that the wild variations in climate and potential travel problems in such a vast land could make it a troubled venue.
Speaking at a media forum for the managers of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland on Friday, Hodgson said: “They’ve got a major logistical problem on their hands. It’s a vast country. I don’t think we realize quite how vast. There’s going to be enormous difficulties for the teams that qualify, according to where they’re drawn. You’ve got to remember, it’s the Brazilian winter, so it’s not going to be particularly much of a sunbathing time unless you happen to find yourself in Rio. If you’re down in Porto Alegre, you’ll going to need your fur coat because it snows and temperatures reach single figures, certainly, and maybe even sometimes lower. And if you find yourself in Manaus, then you won’t be sunbathing, but you will find 45, 50o of heat and plenty of mosquitoes as well, being near the Amazon jungle.”
Hodgson also said he had scouted bases in Rio, Sao Paulo and Belo Horizonte and was worried about the training facilities and hotels that could await.
“When you’re talking about Brazil, you’re talking about Rio, and I don’t think all 32 teams can be in Rio,” he said. “The major problem at the moment is that the local organizing committee and the management of FIFA haven’t yet come to a definite decision which training ground will be paired with which hotel. You don’t really want to be necessarily choosing a hotel with a training venue you don’t like and vice-versa. The hotels will be, not a problem, but they’ll be a challenge. The type of hotels that you’re likely to stay in won’t be the sort of hotels that national teams like to stay in, where you can essentially commandeer a hotel and fashion it to your requirements. It’ll be very difficult to get the type of privacy that national teams prefer.”
However, Hodgson says staging the World Cup in the homeland of Pele, Ronaldo and Romario for just the second time will please purists, especially since the tournaments after that will be held in less glamorous Russia and Qatar.
“The fact that it’s Brazil, we can’t deny adds some spice to this tournament because it is such a major footballing power, has been for so many years,” he said. “It’s a country which is totally dominated by football. They’re also known, of course, for their carnivals and their party atmosphere, which I’m sure won’t be something which supporters would find too daunting. People are going to a lot keener to go to Brazil than perhaps some other countries that are occasionally chosen to be World Cup venues.”