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FIFA's Folly.

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The protests and riots taking place in Brazil over the vast amount of spending the country has undertaken to host the World Cup and with it, the Confederations cup raise some important and striking questions over their future policies of world cup hosting and expanding football's profile in new and developing parts of the world.

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9 years on, nothing to see here......

Leiria, Portugal. A host city for a few games in the 2004 European championship. And home to the 50 million euro Estadio Dr Magalhaes Pessoa, a state of the art 23,500 capacity facility that would be the pride of many a city and football club in many other parts of the world. It lays dormant today with the local team, Uniao de Leiria having abandoned the ground due to excessive rent demands from the local council. A beautifully designed and constructed building that has had no long term impact on it's home other then draining money, in every respect a white elephant.

Portugal is not a footballing backwater. The big three clubs of Porto, Sporting Lisbon and Benfica are massively followed by their adoring fans and have a history of success both domestically and in European competition. Having them host the European championship will have seemed a sensible idea,bringing one of European football's then brightest lights the chance to host the tournament. It has however left a legacy of overspend and excess in a country now struggling to maintain it's domestic finances in the wake of the european financial crisis.

Brazil, Portugal's colonial offspring and the spiritual home of football. One of the world's up and coming financial powers with a very powerful emerging economy and rich local culture and affection for football. Massive amounts of money have been spent on redeveloping many of their football stadia to meet the global demands of the World Cup, to project the right image that they can now compete with the best in the world in both the sporting and political/economic arena.

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There are more important things.....

The image is however merely a fašade. Delays in construction have embarrassed them, failed public transport initiatives have exasperated the local populace and the protests that now are occurring have shown that even though this is Brazil, the social problems and needs that exist there are more important then sport, then their past time.

An international football tournament, especially a world cup is a massive event, an enormous commercial entity that can superficially promise riches beyond dreams, yet it requires incredible resources to get off the ground if the facilities and infrastructure needed to host it do not already exist.

In the past it was no requirement to build new grounds. Recent hosts Italy, Germany, Japan/Korea and the USA did begin the trend of doing this work, yet these were nations with the financial capability and cultural base for a series of large stadia throughout the nations making sense. With the USA a dangerous precedent was set.

The world cup there was a trailblazer in 1994, in it's wake a new national football league, the MLS was setup and it has flourished, laying down the basis of a new football community and culture that is growing in popularity and becoming highly successful. FIFA's desire to grow and reinforce football as the worlds most popular sport has seen them want to follow on from this and expand it's influence into new territories.

If nations with an existing footballing culture could not sensibly support a tournament then what hope is there for some of the countries that will soon be roped in? Qatar has the money to support a world cup, but with it's unfriendly climate and plans to build 6 40,000+ capacity stadia in just one city alone there is no way that the massive construction costs and infrastructure required will ever bare fruit. South Africa, the last hosts are now experiencing the same problems. Massive stadia, billions of Rand spent to bring the 2010 World Cup to life, state of the art facilities that couldn't even sell out during the competition itself gather dust as minimal crowds under-utilse them.

Russia may be different, but as seen with Portugal, give a massive stadium to a small club there is no certainty that it will be filled. The new stadia in Yekaterinburg, Sochi and Saransk probably will not share the same sad fate as the ground in Leiria thanks to nation's size and the thriving domestic league. There are however no certainties that the facilities will not be totally out of scale for their tenant's requirements.

Looking at future bidders for the 2026 competition, only Canada and Mexico have lodged a definitive interest. With bidders from Europe and Asia barred from the process thanks to some convoluted rules designed to share the tournament about there may be further overtures from another nation that may have money, but many more pressing matters that should be addressed first.

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Brasilia's new stadium under construction, soon to be hosting fourth division Brazilian football.

It can only be hoped that possibly the USA join the fray so that the mistakes of the past can be learnt from. So that a nation with the existing infrastructure can take the baton without any long term detrimental effect. Even if Argentina decided to bid, based on the example of Brazil there is nothing to say that that it may not follow a similar troubled path. The massive new building projects in the Brazilian cities of Recife, Manaus and most notably Brasilia, the nations' capital will demand future attention to see if they have truly been worth the effort in the wake of their populations' protests.

The World Cup is rightfully a loved institution, an amazing event and incredible competition. Let's ensure it doesn't implode in the future by gaining a reputation of leaving it's host nations with a legacy of waste and excess. Let the existing countries who could host the tournament tomorrow (Germany, Italy,Spain, The USA and yes... England/Great Britain) back into the fold.

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Updated 20-06-2013 at 02:22 PM by Colinjb

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  1. alpine_saint's Avatar
    Considering the mania for football in Brazil, you know the World Cup is in deep trouble when you see the images of the rioting on your TV screen. FIFA and Blatter risk destroying the thing they are trying to promote and preserve with their bizarre hosting diversity dogma.
  2. Saint Without a Halo's Avatar
    How long before FIFA recognise the failure that will be Qatar! there are barely more than 250,000 Qatari Nationals so the stadiums built will have a capacity greater than the sum of the local population (excluding the guest workers). The weather and country will be totally inhospitable if played in the summer with temperatures averaging 45C plus. In addition there is hardly anything for fans to do outside of the matches other than sit in their hotel rooms.

    Giving Qatar the world cup has nothing to do with Diversity there are hardly any people in the country it is all about money talking!