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Challenge of World Cup preparations in Brazil

Issue like corruption, crime and poor infrastructure still present problems in Brazil, and many of these issues are getting attention in the lead-up to the 2014 World Cup:

For all those reasons, we should not overhype the economic effects of World Cup 2014. There will obviously be short-term gains for Brazilians working in construction and other industries, but the tournament will probably not deliver a permanent boost in income or employment levels. Indeed, many of the hugely expensive stadiums that are being built for the World Cup may sit empty and unused after the festivities are over, much like the stadiums that were constructed for the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing and the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.

Even if the 2014 tournament does produce the economic windfall that government officials are promising, World Cup preparations have drawn attention to embarrassing Brazilian corruption scandals and also reminded foreign observers that South America’s aspiring superpower suffers from poor infrastructure, excessive regulation, bureaucratic waste and inflexible labor markets.

Given that Brazilian politics is plagued by rampant corruption, it is not surprising that the Brazilian Football Confederation (CBF) is similarly afflicted. CBF president Ricardo Teixeira, who assumed that position way back in 1989, has been accused of massive embezzlement. These charges are receiving much greater scrutiny now that Teixeira and the CBF are playing such a big role in the World Cup planning, and they are currently being investigated by Brazilian federal police. (A decade ago, the general secretary of a Brazilian congressional commission declared that Teixeira ‘is directly responsible for creating an environment which is ripe for an administrative disaster.’)

Meanwhile, the Brazilian Supreme Federal Court is probing claims that Orlando Silva, a former senior government official, embezzled up to $23 million. On Oct. 26, Silva resigned from his job as Brazilian sports minister, becoming the fifth minister in President Dilma Rousseff’s government to leave office amid corruption allegations. (The Rousseff administration has been in power for less than a year.)

Brazil is on the verge of becoming a world power, but the Brazilians need to step up in this case.