Wed, Mar 26, 2014 - Page 18 News List

Brazil’s World Cup pessimism growing: poll

AFP, RIO DE JANEIRO

World Cup pessimism is growing among Brazilians, according to a latest Datafolha poll published by the Folha de Sao Paulo daily on Monday, while protesters vowed to disrupt the big kickoff.

A poll of 2,091 people questioned on Feb. 18 and 19 showed that 54 percent believed the tournament would be either “average,” “bad” or “very bad” — though 30 percent were in the average camp.

FIFA secretary-general Jerome Valcke nonetheless said he was optimistic as he returned to Brazil in a visit that is to end in an assessment of latest preparations today.

“Together with the LOC [local organizing committee] and Brazil, we’ll find solutions for the remaining challenges,” Valcke tweeted on arrival.

The Datafolha poll was taken just after FIFA dropped a threat to exclude the venue of Curitiba over lagging preparations as the June 12 kickoff approaches.

Eight percent predicted the tournament would be “bad” and 16 percent “very bad,” while 33 percent plumped for “good” and just 13 percent “excellent.”

Polls in recent months have seen support slipping amid public protests at the estimated US$11 billion cost, with many Brazilians feeling state cash would be better spent on improving poor public services.

Protest groups earlier called for marches nationwide on the opening day of the competition.

In June last year, more than 1 million Brazilians hit the streets to protest during the Confederations Cup, a World Cup dress rehearsal.

The Datafolha poll showed 52 percent of respondents backing protests — the lowest level since last year.

Many Brazilians have been put off by radical elements infiltrating the protests, many of which, while drawing less people than last year, have often turned violent.

Even so, the febrile climate of protest has continued, with one held in Sao Paulo on Saturday and fresh anti-Cup marches announced for Sao Paulo and Rio tomorrow.

A further issue bothering Cup organizers are concerns over the cost of temporary facilities at the 12 venues.

On Monday, Porto Alegre prefect Jose Fortunati said he was still concerned at the finance of temporary structures, despite FIFA and regional authorities as well as stadium owner Internacional indicating agreement was reached last month.

“Complementary structures” are largely covered by FIFA, as per a 2007 Stadium Agreement whereby the game’s world body and local organizing committees provide hospitality and commercial areas, as well as telecom systems for the media.

Host cities are responsible for remaining temporary spaces such as media facilities, but Fortunati indicated that Porto Alegre could miss out on the Cup unless companies were offered tax benefits to help foot a multimillion-dollar bill.

Fortunati said city vice prefect Sebastiao Melo was to travel to Rio yesterday to discuss the matter with organizers.

Valcke last week said Porto Alegre still had “some problems” along with Sao Paulo, where construction has been much delayed following an accident which killed two construction workers in November last year.

Valcke arrived back in Brazil following yet more controversy after FIFA withdrew an article, “Brazil for Beginners,” in its FIFA Weekly Webzine.

The article, a humorous look at Brazil, but filled with stereotypical observations such as a lack of punctuality, was swiftly pulled following unimpressed Brazilian media and social media comment.

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