By Jayme Monsanto, Senior Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO – We are still five years away from the World Cup in Brazil and the majority of preparations for the competition will only take place after the South African installment next year, but the Brazilian committee has already released some early plans for 2014 – the first time they will host the competition since 1950.
Last week the Ministry of Sports announced the creation of a brand new Department of Soccer, intended to centralize and coordinate the government’s plans for the World Cup and the litany of improvements to Brazil’s stadiums and surrounding infrastructure that were promised as part of their successful bid.
These include building brand new stadiums and modernizing existing ones (The Maracana will be shut in early 2010 for up to three years in the most dramatic overhaul of the magnificent venue since the tragedy of 1992 when part of the stadium collapsed), investment in telecommunications, improving airports (including the reconstruction of Galeao, Rio’s international airport) and creating more hotel rooms for thousands of tourists.
The new Department follows the blueprint created by the Olympic Committee who have already set out their early plans for the arrival of the world’s greatest athletes in 2016.
After the power outage that hit most of Brazil last week, many commentators around the world questioned whether Brazil was capable of hosting an international event as big as the World Cup and the Olympics.
The IOC and FIFA dismissed the importance of the blackout, however, saying that it could easily have happened anywhere in the world. Both organizations said they have absolute faith in Brazil and that the country has plenty of time to solve any underlying problems before the beginning of the competitions.
The World Cup 2014 committee is presided over by Ricardo Teixeira, who is also the president of CBF (Brazilian Soccer Federation) and COB (Brazilian Olympics Committee). So far, five members of the board of directors have been announced:
Carlos Geraldo Langoni – The former president of the Central Bank of Brazil and a PhD in Economics from the University of Chicago, Langoni will work as Finance Director.
Francisco Antunes Müssnich – Francisco is a court judge specialising in sports law, and will oversee the legal department.
Rodrigo Paiva – A CBF spokesman since 2002, journalist Rodrigo Paiva has also worked as spokesman for the legendary Brazilian strikers Ronaldo and Romário, and joins the commitee as Press Assistant.
Joana Havelange – Daughter of Ricardo Teixeira and granddaughter of FIFA ex-president João Havelange, Joana is the youngest of the Directors and will work as Administrative Secretary.
Mario Rosa – Director of the MR Consultoria public relations company, Mario Rosa will be in charge of Institutional Relations.
The World Cup 2014 Committee will set up offices in Barra da Tijuca, the same neighbourhood that houses the COB headquarters and in addition to President Ricardo Teixeira and the five directors, ex-soccer player Pelé will also have a room in the new office, having been named Ambassador of Brazil 2014.
The 1950 World Cup was the first to be held after the Second World War, and The Maracana was purpose-built to host the final that year and be an enduring legacy of the Finals. Having coasted through the competition the unimaginable happened against Uruguay in the final. Despite going 1 x 0 up in the first half, two second half goals gave Uruguay the title, a result still widely considered to be the greatest upset in the history of the competition.