KEIR RADNEDGE REPORTS: Brazil’s staging of the World Cup finals in June and July will come under greater critical media focus than any previous tournament.
Jerome Valcke, secretary-general of world federation FIFA, has confirmed “a record attendance” from reporters and photographers and television and radio crews.” Valcke, FIFA’s chief progress-chaser of the delay-embattled organisers, added: “We expect about 18,000 media representatives from more than 160 countries around the world.”
The international image and reputation of Brazil as a ‘can-do’ nation – never mind as a tourist attraction – is on the line.
After all the fuss about construction deaths, delays and street protests the competence and mood of the host nation will come in for intense scrutiny from international television, radio, web and print.
Valcke has conceded, in his latest FIFA blog, that certain challenges remain but he was encouraged by memories of South Africa in 2010.
He said: “I remember well all the doubts and criticism which accompanied the last few months of the preparations in South Africa and how the event staging was constantly put into question by the media.
“Nearly four years later, the common perception is that it was an outstanding World Cup, fuelling the confidence of a whole nation, boosting the trust of international business and the country was also strengthened by the improvements in the IT and general infrastructure, enhancing tourism at the same time.
“Unfortunately, pessimism is a common trend when it comes to staging major events. But in the end it always works out.”
Valcke may be over-stating the case, somewhat. Certainly the staging of the first African World Cup finals was considered a success but that appeared to come almost at the expense of the football which was disappointing as a promotional vehicle for the game.
Brazil’s football tradition has been considered as a likely inspiration for the finalists this time around.
The success of the football – and of the host nation – will be key elements in the overall assessment of the 2014 finals.
Valcke addressed domestic unrest over costs by underlining how Brazil should benefit from the event support infrastructure.
He said: “Despite the tight race on Brazil applying the final key operational elements, people can already see exactly this same legacy taking shape – at least those who want to see it.
“All the reports I receive indicate just how fast and hard Brazil is working now to complete preparations, not only for the World Cup, but also for improvements to the country’s cultural, urban and transportation infrastructure that will continue to serve generations to come.
“The diverse social projects, which include teaching people to work in a multitude of service sectors, are a great testimonial for this. Not to mention the sporting legacy, which should never be forgotten in the country of football, as Brazil is on the verge of entering a new era in terms of stadiums and spectator services.”
Valcke will be back in Brazil after Easter.