SBD/July 14, 2014/Events and Attractions

World Cup Deemed A Success Despite Fears Of Mass Protests, Venue Failures

Attendance at this year's World Cup was on pace to be the second highest ever
The '14 FIFA World Cup was "plagued by doubts over whether the stadiums would be ready and stay standing, and if Brazil’s people would join in the fun or try to spoil it," but the event was "a winner" in the end, according to Gerald Imray of the AP. The stadiums were "pretty much full to the brim." They ultimately "weren't perfect, but they worked out." At FIFA's last count, the average attendance "was set to be the second-highest in tournament history" behind only the '94 World Cup in the U.S. Meanwhile, the "widespread and violent" street protests "never happened." Additionally, Brazil's "sometimes rickety existing metro systems in the biggest cities of Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro did hold up," carrying fans to stadiums "without any major problems." But visitors "did complain about muggings and credit card fraud." Some tourists "may have also been surprised by the prices," as the event marked a "great experience, but not always a cheap one" (AP, 7/13). In Miami, Michelle Kaufman writes Brazil "was a winner" as the host country, "defying naysayers." This World Cup "will go down in history as one of the most exciting in recent memory" (MIAMI HERALD, 7/14). ABC's Ian Darke said, "After all of the doubts, what a tournament they've staged. ... For me, the greatest World Cup of the modern era." ABC's Mike Tirico said, "It was a pretty darn good World Cup and came off, for the most part, without a problem. So our hats off to Brazil and this 2014 World Cup" ("World Cup," ABC, 7/13). In N.Y., Jeré Longman reports the World Cup "was well organized despite fears that it would be chaotic." Brazilians were "hospitable," and some "have called this the best World Cup in recent memory." Soccer "became so absorbing that widespread protests -- against perceived wasteful spending on the World Cup and the 2016 Rio Olympics -- did not occur after undermining" last year's Confederations Cup (N.Y. TIMES, 7/14). NBC's Willie Geist said, "Brazilian officials have to be happy with how well the tournament came off for the most part, even if they will never get over that humiliating 7-1 loss against Germany" ("Today," NBC, 7/14).

DEFYING DOUBTERS: Brazil President Dilma Rousseff said that the country "has proved its doubters wrong by putting on a highly successful World Cup." The AP's Manuel Martinez noted concerns that stadiums and airports would not be ready or that protests would disrupt the event "dogged Brazil in the years leading up to the event." But people are now "hailing it as a sporting success and hundreds of thousands of fans have applauded the warmth of Brazilians and the lively party atmosphere." Rousseff said, "We showed that our people know how to have good interaction not only among ourselves but with the foreigners that we received." Many fans "are calling this one of the best World Cups in decades, given the high-level of play on the field and lack of serious hitches in logistics for fans as they made their way to stadiums" (AP, 7/11). In Montreal, Jack Todd writes Brazil gave a "good party," providing the atmosphere "everyone expected from the nation whose fans create the party atmosphere at every other World Cup" (Montreal GAZETTE, 7/14).

DOLLARS & SENSE: A FINANCIAL TIMES editorial stated while Brazilians are "perhaps bleary and hungover," they "have good reason to look back on the tournament and feel pleased with how it went." However, there "were many unfortunate aspects." Foremost is the way FIFA "hijacked a nation." Regardless, Brazil also showed that it "could deliver spanking new stadiums and infrastructure on time, but at four times budgeted cost" (FINANCIAL TIMES, 7/12). In Toronto, Cathal Kelly wrote, "We are long past pretending that holding a World Cup is a smart bottom-line proposition." That myth "died in South Africa." This "has created a vicious economic circle." FIFA "will not substantially share revenues with the hosts," so the hosts "are encouraged to do this on the cheap." Kelly: "Everyone talks a good game about the fan experience and infrastructure improvements, but it doesn't materialize" (GLOBE & MAIL, 7/12).

THE ISSUES OF THE DAY: The WALL STREET JOURNAL's Connors & Chao cited Rio de Janeiro police as saying that a small protest "took place outside the Maracanã" before yesterday's Germany-Argentina final, and four people were arrested. The protesters "were calling attention" to the $11.5B that Brazil's government spent to host the event. But after months of worry that protests "would disrupt the World Cup, large-scale protests failed to materialize" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 7/14). The GLOBE & MAIL's John Doyle wrote this World Cup "was itself a rapture, for a while." It was "almost magnificent" and Brazil "almost got it perfectly right." But the city of Sao Paulo "seemed to see this World Cup as an irritation" (GLOBE & MAIL, 7/12). CANADA.com's Anthony Lopopolo wrote under the header, "What Really Happened At The World Cup." The stadiums "were not ready, and neither were railway projects" (CANADA.com, 7/11). The WALL STREET JOURNAL's Lyons, Magalhaes & Jelmayer note Brazil now "must gear up" for the '16 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, "another megaevent that organizers say is behind schedule and which is once again provoking criticism of Brazil's spending priorities" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 7/14).
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