The long road to "O Mundo": Brazil prepares for the 2014 World Cup

“Futebol.” Rarely has one word evoked the spirit of a nation as palpably. Brazil, a country of nearly 200 million, is also home to the most successful national soccer team of all time, otherwise known as the “Samba Boys,” or “a Seleccao.” Long known for their silky style of play and historic players, such as Pele, Zico, and Ronaldo, soccer is to Brazil what wine is to France. It is their national pastime, and for that, the world soccer organization known, FIFA, awarded them as the host nation for the 2014 World Cup. Brazil’s successful bid to host the world’s most popular sporting event, however, was not down solely to their stylish soccer. The largest South American country is now one of the key players in the global economy (BRIC). Yet, Brazil’s rapid rise from developing nation to economic powerhouse has been fraught with controversy. Corruption, mostly at the local, but also at the national level, as well as violence, drug dealing, and freedom of the press violations have all made daily headlines around the world. Problems with their tournament preparations in the form of labor strikes, construction delays, and police infiltration of slum neighborhoods have caused FIFA to sweat over the country’s readiness for the Summer 2013 Tournament warmup “Confederations Cup” and next summer's tournament.

The following is a timeline that documents some of the major events and problems related to Brazil's preparations for the world's biggest sporting event.

2003-03-07 00:00:00

South America gets the nod to host

FIFA President Sepp Blatter announces that the 2014 World Cup will take place in South America for the first time since Argentina hosted it in 1978.

2003-06-03 00:00:00

Countries bid to host tournament

The South American soccer association CONMEBOL announces that Argentina, Brazil, and Colombia will fight over the right to host the tournament

2004-03-17 00:00:00

CONMEBOL votes to adopt Brazil as host candidate

South American soccer confederation CONMEBOL votes unanimously for Brazil as their sole candidate to host the Cup.

2006-07-04 19:01:50

Blatter drops Brazil hint

FIFA President Sepp Blatter says that Brazil will "probably host" the 2014 Cup, though he acknowledged in earlier comments that the country did not have any stadiums ready for the Cup at the moment.

2006-09-26 06:38:47

Blatter and Lula Meet

FIFA President Sepp Blatter meets with Brazilian President Lula in Brazil. The two discuss Brazil's preparedness for the tournament amidst concerns regarding security. Lula reportedly assures Blatter that Brazil will correct any safety issues and be ready for the tournament.

2006-12-13 17:57:16

Brazil formally declares candidacy

Brazil formally declares its candidacy in December 2006 and Colombia follows a few days later. The Argentina bid never formally materialized.

2007-04-11 09:51:10

Columbia withdraws bid

Columbia officially withdraws their bid to host the tournament, making Brazil the only remaining county to bid to host.

2007-08-17 14:43:14

CFB confirms host cities for 2014 World Cup

2014 host cities will include: Belo Horizonte, Brasilia, Cuiaba, Curitiba, Fortaleza, Manaus, Natal, Porto Alegre, Recife, Rio de Janeiro, Salvador, and Sao Paulo.

2007-10-30 09:51:10

FIFA officially announces that Brazil will host 2014 World Cup

Brazil wins the right to host the event on as the only country to enter the bidding process.

2008-11-28 21:17:31

Rio de Janeiro police begin favela raids

Rio Police occupy the Santa Marta favela. They arrest residents, confiscate firearms and drugs, and set off what came to be known as UPP (Police Pacifying Unit), an urban security strategy designed to reclaim territory from gangs in Rio's drug-riddled favelas. More than 30 slum districts have introduced UPPs Each of these units is staffed by more than 100 officers, who police the communities around it. The UPP has been generally regarded as a success, but has been met with criticism by human rights organizations who have blamed them for not taking adequate steps in holding police who commit abuses accountable and acting in the interest of tourism for the World Cup and 2016 Olympics. Many Rio communities formerly controlled by drug dealers are now in the hands of militias composed of police, jail guards, firefighters, and others who coerce residents to pay for illegal utility hookups, transportation, and security. These militias have been implicated in execution-style killings, far-reaching extortion schemes, and the kidnapping and torture of a group of journalists investigating their activities.

2009-05-18 19:01:50

Amnesty International releases scathing report on Brazil

In its annual report on Brazil, Amnesty International writes that, "People in marginalized communities continued to live amid high levels of violence from both organized criminal gangs and the police. Policing operations in such communities resulted in thousands of deaths and injuries and often intensified social exclusion. Death squads linked to the police were also responsible for hundreds of killings."

2010-11-21 13:58:34

Rio security crisis sets off fears for World Cup

A series of attacks lead by Rio's main criminal factions against civilian targets claims 41 lives, damages cars, and infrastructure in Rio and some its neighboring cities. In response local police along with army and military personnel initiate large-scale offenses against two of the city's largest drug-trafficking headquarters. Police still occupy the city's largest favela, Complexo do Alemao.

2010-11-29 21:17:31

Corruption allegations mar tournament preparations

A report by the BBC's Panorama claims that three FIFA officials, including Ricardo Teixeira, head of the Brazilian Football Confederation, took millions of dollars in bribes from a sports marketing firm during the 1990s in order to secure television rights to the FIFA World Cup. Teixeira initially denies the allegations, but later resigns.

2011-10-01 15:39:35

More corruption cause FIFA consternation

Former Brazilian Sports Minister Orlando Silva, accused of misappropriating more than $20m (£13m) from a fund to promote sport for deprived children, resigned his post under pressure from Brazilian President Dilma Roussef. In all Silva was the fifth Brazilian cabinet minister to leave office in 2011amid corruption allegations. Rouseff appoints Aldo Rebeldo of the Communist Party as the new sports minister.

2011-10-15 21:17:31

Brazil begins to lag behind

As of Oct. 1, 2011, only nine of 49 planned urban-transport schemes in Brazilian host cities had begun. Airport upgrades were running behind schedule too, and more than half had been temporary fixed. An Economist article said that, "FIFA President Sepp Blatter had written to Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff expressing concern, but that Rousseff had cause to worry about FIFA. Just when she was doing her best to clean up the country's politics—she has sacked four ministers over corruption claims—the World Cup is being run by one of football's most tarnished figures (Ricardo Teixeira). And claims of sleaze keep on coming."

2012-06-24 00:09:18

Ready or not?

An article in the Los Angeles Times reports that nearly half of Brazil's construction projects for the 2014 World Cup had not yet begun. FIFA General Secretary Jerome Valcke, upset with the construction delays, said the process was "not working" and World Cup organizers needed a "kick" to get things moving.

2013-03-08 09:13:09

Transportation projects also behind

Former Brazilian World Cup winner and now lawmaker in Brazil's Congress Romario said, "The much-discussed social legacy looks like it won't get off the drawing board. Almost all the transport projects are behind schedule, some have been put back and will be opened only after the World Cup and others have been cancelled altogether."

2013-03-08 15:07:46

Protests display social cost of tournament preparations.

Indigenous groups in Rio have mounted protests against the re-purposing of the Museum of the Indigenous for a sports museum. Protesters occupied the building and have been forcefully removed by police.

2013-04-01 00:10:46

Stadium problems shake confidence in Brazil's preparedness

The Estadio Olimpico Joao Havelange, which has been in use for less than six years, is closed due to concerns over its structural integrity. In addition, despite over $400 million in renovations, Rio de Janeiro's famous Maracana stadium still has gaps, holes, and flooding after construction workers play an inaugural match there.

2013-06-15 18:04:29

2013 Confederations Cup to be held in six Brazilian cities

Belo Horizonte, Brasilia, Fortaleza, Recife, Rio de Janeiro, and Salvador will accommodate the two-week-long prelude tournament to the 2014 World Cup. Confederation tournament winners from Africa (Nigeria), Asia (Japan), Europe (Spain and Euro 2012 finalists-Italy), North America (Mexico), Oceania (Tahiti), and South America (hosts Brazil and 2011 Copa America winners Uruguay), will compete.

2014-06-12 10:47:00

Kickoff!

The month-long tournament will commence on June 12, 2014 at approximately 5:00 p.m. when hosts Brazil will face a yet-unknown visitor in the Arena Corinthians in Sao Paulo.

The long road to "O Mundo": Brazil prepares for the 2014 World Cup

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