By Robbie Blakeley, Contributing Sports Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – World football’s governing body, FIFA, has announced that Rio de Janeiro is to be the home of the International Broadcast Centre (IBC) during the 2014 World Cup. The city gained the prestigious honor over its two main rivals, São Paulo, Brazil’s traditional economic stronghold, and Brasília, the nation’s capital. In a statement, FIFA said Rio won the right due to its “quality of infrastructure” and “variety of accommodation”.
General secretary Jerome Valcke explained, “it was a difficult decision … all candidates were of great quality and showed huge commitment. But unfortunately there can only be one selected host and we considered the best overall for FIFA was Rio de Janeiro.”
As a result Rio, and in turn, Maracanã Stadium, the largest sports stadium in Brazil, is set for some huge exposure in the world of sport over the next few years.
Not only will the Cidade Maravilhosa (Marvelous City) play host to the 2014 World Cup final after a complete refurbishment, it will also host the opening and closing ceremonies of the 2016 Olympic Games.
After suffering the bitter disappointment, São Paulo and Brasília, along with Minas Gerais state capital Belo Horizonte, have been left to compete for the right to host the World Cup’s opening match, which will feature Brazil as hosts. It is thought São Paulo are currently in the lead, provided they are capable of building a brand new stadium from scratch.
The IBC will be located at the Riocentro complex, in Barra da Tijuca, the same district proposed to be used for the Olympic Village for the 2016 Games. Rio previously used the Riocentro complex to house the press center and certain competitions during the 2007 Pan American Games.
Valcke continued: “This IBC will be one of the most advanced information centers in the world for the months of June and July 2014. It is a vital component, linking the FIFA World Cup to the rest of the world and ensuring that people across the globe have the latest and best coverage of our beautiful game.”
According to FIFA, 179 broadcasters from more than 70 countries had onsite productions with 13,000 staff members during the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, with at least the same number expected again in three years time.
Despite such high praise for Rio as a venue for the world media, Valcke was slightly less enthusiastic when assessing the country’s progress as a whole regarding stadium and airport expansion. Regarding works to expand and improve airports and public transport, Valcke said: “I won’t say Brazil started too late, but we are not advanced in Brazil … We don’t have stadiums, airports, or a national transportation system.”
Legendary Brazilian striker Romário was even more drastic in his appraisal of the situation. The member of Congress, who has played for Carioca clubs Flamengo, Fluminense and Vasco, claimed only divine intervention could help Brazil in their preparations.
“Only he (Jesus) can ensure Brazil have the best Cup. If he comes down in the next three years, then it will be possible. From what I see, things aren’t going to happen. We’ll have the World Cup, but sadly we’ll have problems and it won’t be the best,” he said.