Brazil 2014: exactly one year to go

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Are you looking forward to the World Cup?  Not yet?  Not even with the qualifiers going on?

In Britain, we seem to be getting a bit more realistic in our expectations for the national team.  When ex-Arsenal Brazilian Gilberto Silva said yesterday that England are candidates to win the tournament, the response was … how shall I put it? Sceptical.  Ditto the other home nations.

And the enthusiasm following the path to the finals has been muted all round.

But it’s in Brazil where the alarm bells are ringing loudly.  And in FIFA too, despite the confident public face.

At an organisational level, there’s concern.  At the outset there was controversy over spending millions on stadiums while the desperate poverty evident around them appeared to be ignored or brushed under the carpet.

And once construction began, it soon fell behind schedule.  Typically, England’s recent friendly at the Maracana stadium was dogged with reports that the area was still a building site.  And that’s an existing stadium being improved.  The new ones are much further behind.

More generally, the Brazilian football authorities have been criticised for being one of the last bastions of corruption and nepotism.

Brazilian football is awash with money after benefiting from a new TV deal, but, attendances are down, in part due to spiralling inter-fan violence.

And the current Brazilian team is commonly regarded as one of the worst in their history.  As Brazil legend Zico said recently “The group of players we have now look unlikely to win the world Cup, even with home support” Ouch.  This, when people are desperate for success to avenge the last time Brazil hosted World Cup in 1950 – they lost to Uruguay in the final.

London 2012 showed us how a successful event and a successful home team go hand in hand.  Or not as the case may be.

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