Generations of Brazilians have grown up in the Estádio Jornalista Mário Filho, known around the world as the Maracanã. Built for the 1950 World Cup and at the time the largest stadium in the world, it became an instant national landmark, a symbol of Brazil’s soccer-centric culture.
Luxury boxes, modern seating and safety improvements are reasons Brazil’s stadiums are changing as the country prepares to host the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Summer Olympics.
The stadium, which is likely to host the 2014 World Cup opener and final, is flanked by hills and favelas, the city’s notoriously poor slums. Far above, from behind the iconic statue of Christ the Redeemer, the distant Maracanã looks like a still birdbath amid the pulsing metropolis.
The Fan Walk – a car-free stretch in Cape Town that connected a downtown public soccer viewing area with a World Cup stadium – has spurred plans for more pedestrian malls at sporting events.
During this summer's World Cup, Somerset Road in Cape Town was transformed into a South African oddity: a road without cars.
They called it the Fan Walk, 1.6 miles of asphalt connecting a public soccer viewing area downtown with the newly constructed Green Point Stadium. The path was mobbed with people during the city's eight World Cup matches; a sea of fans, performers, and kids running wild. The street party was a big change for a city and country that has shied away from venturing beyond the comfort and security of the private automobile.
Two major international decisions are being made today: which countries will host the 2018 and 2022 World Cups. The selected hosts will undoubtedly celebrate their victories, and look forward to the soft and hard benefits of hosting this most watched of sporting events. The host countries should also take care to prepare for negative impacts – short- and long-term effects that play out in physical, social and economic ways. Who gets selected is surely important in some ways, but when considering these mega-events in terms of their potential impact on the places in which they're held, who hosts the World Cup doesn't really matter.
It should, though. But because of the minimal requirements made of the cities hosting World Cup matches, how cities prepare for the event is hardly a concern to FIFA, soccer's international governing body. Whether hosting the World Cup makes a city exponentially better or terrifyingly less efficient is irrelevant to FIFA, based on how it guides the cities intending to host this event. The long-term impact of the event is hardly considered, and its potential to create the sort of vast civic improvement projects often resulting from such international event hosting is ignored.
The 2010 World Cup has ended in South Africa. What's left behind are a number of physical and cultural legacies that will be both landmark developments and potential economic hazards.
There are no vuvuzelas. The plastic horns had been blaring at random throughout the city of Johannesburg for the entire month of the 2010 World Cup, which has just finished here in South Africa. They were even blaring the month before the Cup started -- in the middle of the morning, out of car windows on the freeway, inside the city's endless shopping malls. But now that it's over, the loud honk that had become a part of the city's background static has faded out.
One of the only bad parts about being here in South Africa for the World Cup is missing out on Univision’s Spanish-language coverage.
I should probably note that I don’t speak Spanish. Not fluently, at least. But I vastly prefer watching my fútbol en español. And being here, subjected to the dry and ramblingly irrelevant South African announcers on the local SABC and Supersport stations has reminded me just how superior the voices of Mexican television are on the global scale. Few if any commentators possess the passion and raw vocal talent of Univision’s Pablo Ramirez, arguably the most entertaining soccer announcer calling the game today.
Things are not looking good for England. Two draws against opponents many in the global football community had quickly written off. The passes aren’t coming through, the runs are being cut off, the set pieces are blasting over the cross-bar. Exasperation was clear and bright red on the faces of players during Friday’s match against unexpectedly impressive Algeria. They were snippy with each other, with the officials and with their coach. Their game could simply be described as frustrating.
While I don’t want to discount Algeria’s quality of play, I think England’s poor performance in the match and the World Cup as a whole can be blamed on Coach Fabio Capello’s overzealous coaching tactics. Not on the field, but in the bedroom.
Capello has forbidden his players from having sex during the World Cup. Not even "Nice goal" sex or "Sorry about the yellow card" sex. And if you’ve seen some of the wives and girlfriends these guys have, you’ll join me in wishing them the worst of luck in what is, hopefully for them, their last match of the 2010 World Cup this Wednesday.
Next month's World Cup in South Africa will bring a lot of attention to the country, and a lot of opportunity. Though many hope the country will see an economic benefit, the biggest impact is likely to be the creation of urban infrastructure.
In one month, the world's most popular sporting event will begin, drawing billions of spectators to screens all over the planet. In another month, it'll all be over.
The road to qualify for the 2010 FIFA World Cup has been long for the 32 national teams that have made the final cut of the world’s most-watched international sporting event. But that road has been longer, rougher, and much more expensive for the Republic of South Africa, which was chosen as the host of the 2010 event back in 2004. In the intervening six years, South Africa has laid out a strategy for using the multi-city soccer tournament as a catalyst for local economic development and countrywide infrastructure investments.
Those preparations are underway, and the country has made broad physical and institutional improvements since being chosen to host the tournament. But with less than three months until kickoff on June 11, South Africa still faces many challenges and unanswered questions – not the least of which is what happens after the World Cup is over.
Whether you've realized it yet or not, soccer is a big deal in this gloabalizing world. And every four years it's a huge deal for one country: the host of the FIFA World Cup.
All eyes are on the host country for the 32-team tournament, which is the most-watched sporting event in the world. And though showtime is just one month long, the host spends years vying, preparing and investing for the tournament. It has major potential to spur broad countrywide improvements and economic development. So when the U.S. made news recently by offering forth 70 stadia as possible host sites for either the 2018 or 2022 World Cup (along with a reputation booster from President Barack Obama), I had to filter out my national pride. Sure, the U.S.