There is just a week and a half to go until the World Cup kicks off in the 65,000 seat Itaquerao Stadium in Sao Paulo. The problem is, that stadium, which has faced delays, millions of dollars in wasted funds and even construction worker deaths, is STILL NOT FINISHED. How is this even possible? Brazil has known when the World Cup would start for EONS, yet they still could not get their shit together in time. On Sunday Itaquerao Stadium held its final test event – a game between Brazilian soccer teams Botafogo and Corinthians. However, only 37,000 of the 65,000 seats were able to be filled because a section of temporary stands located behind the goals had not yet been approved for use by the fire department.
This is just the latest snafu in a stadium that is costing the Brazilian people $400 million dollars to build. On June 12 the stadium will host the opening game of the World Cup without a conducting full test event. Good luck to Brazil and Croatia and the fans in the stands. Seriously! Let me make that clear – the first time this stadium will get a full test is on the opening day of the World Cup. On Sunday, only 40,000 tickets were put on sale. Well, at least they aren't really trying to sell tickets for seats that have yet to be determined to be able to withstand the weight stress put on them.
Two weeks ago, the construction company who is building the stadium announced that the glass roof – which was designed to protect fans from the rain – will not be completed until AFTER the World Cup is over. The stadium was supposed to be completed by December 31, 2013. That was a deadline given to Brazil by FIFA. It is June 3, 2014, people.
Three men died working on the stadium, which led to multiple delays in construction. Additionally, Brazil's government has been dealing with the overriding feeling in their own country that Brazilians are fed up with the cost and headaches of putting these games on. Reportedly, the working-class Corinthians fans shouted protests outside the game Sunday. Their beef? The high cost of tickets to the new $400 million stadium.
But Sao Paolo's Itaquerao is not the only stadium that is unfinished just nine days before the start of soccer's biggest tournament. The stadiums in Natal and Porto Alegre are not yet finished either. The local World Cup Organizing Committed distributed literature at the game that stated that a test event, as Sunday's game was, does not mean that fans in attendance will find all of the services that will be available at the World Cup available that day. While Sunday's game went off without a hitch, interior parts of the shiny new stadium were visibly unfinished. Concrete walls were exposed. There were construction materials lying around on unused parts of the stands.
At issue are the two temporary grandstands installed to expand capacity of the stadium for the World Cup matches only. These seating sections will be removed after the World Cup, leaving Itaquerao Stadium with a permanent seating capacity of 40,000. Itaquerao Stadium is being built by Odebrecht Construction, one of the country's largest construction firms. Brazil was awarded the World Cup in 2007, and games will take place in 12 cities. The fact that Brazil has multiple stadiums unfinished a week and a half before the World Cup start is just the latest bad sign surrounding this tournament.
Oh and let's not forget the fact that in 1994 the United States spent just $30 million on World Cup infrastructure improvements. By the time the 2014 games start, Brazil will have spent $14 billion. And let's also take a moment to remember the fact that an estimated 20% of Brazil's population lives in abject poverty. What a disaster.