The World Cup is only days away. Anticipation is growing by the day and I for one cannot wait for the tournament to start. Sadly, many in Brazil feel differently. Continued reports of civil unrest and street protests are emerging from the South American country. This week, football legend and Brazilian national icon Pele labelled preparations for the tournament “a disgrace”. The former Santos star and three-time World Cup winner blames “ongoing corruption that has delayed construction of the stadiums”.
Probably the best example of stadium excesses is the story of Estádio Nacional, the newly built multi-purpose stadium in the capital Brasília. Demolished in 2010, the stadium was rebuilt, and now boasts a maximum capacity of just over 70,000 seats. To date it is the second most expensive football arena on the planet, costing three times more than the original estimate ($300m). Estádio Nacional will host seven matches during the month long World Cup, one of which is Cameroon versus Brazil.
Brasília is located in the Distrito Federal (Federal District) and has about twenty football teams. Of these twenty, only five could be considered clubs of note, having competed in the upper tiers of professional football in Brazil.
Next season, the highest rated football teams in the district will compete in the Campeonato Brasileiro Série D, the 4th tier of Brazilian football! Brasília Futebol Clube, Brasiliense Futebol Clube and Sociedade Esportiva do Gama will fly the flag in Série D for the Distrito Federal. To give you an idea of it's popularity, attendance at the first leg of the final game in Série D in 2013 was just over 4,000 people. Nearly 18,000 people attended the FAI Cup final between Drogheda United and Sligo Rovers in November 2013.
The World Cup will end on Sunday 13th of July. One country will celebrate long into the early hours, and in the days and weeks ahead. For the vast majority, it will be a case of what could have been. Heroes will be born. No doubt villains will emerge. And while the rest of us get back to normal, happy in the knowledge that our memories will last a lifetime, the people of Brasília will be left with a white elephant. A stadium fit for the finest clubs on the planet with no team to fill it.
70,000 empty seats. $12,857.14 per seat. Almost identical to the average annual income (GDP per capita) in Brazil. $900,000,000 could build an awful lot of new schools and hospitals.