Archive for December, 2009

David Beckham hopes to play in Brazil in 2014

Friday, December 18th, 2009

Several sites (like this and this) reported today that English player David Beckham declared that he has hopes to play the World Cup 2014 in Brazil.

Beckham was born in May 1975, and will be aged nearly 40 in 2014. Beckham is famous for several reasons, including: he is one of the greatest idols in English football and the player with most caps in the English team (currently, 115 appearances); he played in some of the most important teams in the world, including Manchester United, Real Madrid and Milan (from 2007 to 2010, he played in American team Galaxy, which paid him loads of money – speaking of which, Beckham was the highest player in world in 2004); his wife Victoria Beckham was a famous singer.

Beckham’s hopes are far from reality. As himself admitted, it is probably that he will not be with England in the South Africa Cup 2010.

Besides serving the English Team, Beckham has other reasons to hope to come to Brazil. Beckham has business in Rio Grande do Norte, a State in the Northeast of Brazil (which is also one of the host cities of the World Cup 2014): he plans to have a football academy in a luxury resort to be built in that State – see notes about the Beckham Academy and his visit to Brazil.

However he comes, Beckham will be welcomed in Brazil.

Update, March 15th 2010: Beckham suffered an injury while playing in Milan and is out of the World Cup 2010.

Brazilian airports not ready for 2014, Iata says

Thursday, December 17th, 2009

The Brazilian airports are not ready for the World Cup 2014 and the Olympic Games 2016, says Giovanni Bisignani, director of Iata (International Air Transport Association); in an interview, when asked whether the current aerial network could cope with the expected influx of visitors, the director said: “No, today we would have serious troubles”.

airport-crisisBisignani also declared that, if the Brazilian Government decides to privatize existing airports or contract the building of new ones, laws should be passed to guarantee that all airports are ready and fully working in 2014: “the airports can’t be turned into money printing machines; there is no point in imposing fines to contractors, if visitors have already been frustrated”.

In regards to this same matter, Bisignani said that Brazil should seek to avoid the problem in South Africa, where, to pay the dividends to the airport operators, the airfare taxes will experiment a raise of 133%.

In response to Iata, the Minister of Defense (which controls all air traffic in Brazil), Nelson Jobim, declared that “we indeed have problems in the airports, but we are working to have them ready by 2014″.

The Minister said that there is an over estimation of the increase in the number of visitors during the World Cup. According to the Minister, during the months of the Cup, the circulation of passengers will increase by a figure of 2,7 million, which represents only 10% more than the normal traffic.

What the Minister doesn’t seem to remember is that Brazilian passenger have no choice but to use – and continue using -  these airports (photo shows a day of chaos in Rio de Janeiro airport). Foreign visitors may or may not come back – and they can tell the World about the problems of Brazilian airports.

Standards of hotels in Brazil

Saturday, December 12th, 2009

Anyone who stays in the Copacabana Palace in Rio or the Hilton in São Paulo knows that those are five star hotels. But how about the other less known hotels?

five-star-hotelsToday, there are not official standards to rank hotels by quality of services, comfort levels, prices, etc. Classifications mentioned by the hotels or travel agencies are usually self-attributed.

The Minister of Tourism has just announced a project to establish norms and standards for the hotels in Brazil. Among the actions of the project, are included: creation of a reference hotel, against which other hotels may be compared; creation of a seal of quality; creation of a matrix of references, which shall be used to categorize hotels.

This matrix will separate hotels in classes (resorts, inns, ranch hotels, jungle hotels, historic, urban, bed and breakfast) and categories, (from one to five stars). The classification and categorization, as well as the issuing of seals of quality, will be made by Inmetro, the Brazilian Institute of Weights and Measures (see notice).

The General Law of Tourism, passed in 2008, already provided for a kind of standardization of tourism services. Among other measures, the law determined that all travel related establishments should be profiled and classified by the Government.

So far, little of the law was implemented though. It is the expected influx of (demanding) international tourists during the World Cup 2014 which is moving the Brazilian government to improve the quality of hotels in Brazil.

The bullet train

Wednesday, December 9th, 2009

One of the main transportation projects for the World Cup 2014 is the building of a bullet train linking São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, the two largest Brazilian cities. In Portuguese, the train is called Trem de Alta Velocidade (High Speed Train), or TAV; visit the official site of the High Speed Train.

high-speed-trainThe official TAV site still informs (wth endorsement of the Federal Government) that operations should start before 2014; however, there are strong doubts about that. There are several obstacles to the project, including technical, financial, political and environmental.

In 2007, it was estimated that the bidding process would be finished by 2008, and the trains would be running after seven years; today, it is growing stronger the opinion that the train won’t be ready before 2015.

The Government is looking for private partners to build the railway. On December 7th 2009, the federal Government announced the criteria to be used to select the partners; 70% of the scoring of bidders will be related to the necessity of official fundings (the smaller the necessity, the higher the score), and 30% will be related to the price of ticket to be charged from passengers (the cheaper the ticket, the higher the score).

Below, more information about the project.

bullet-train-map

The map above shows the route of the railways (click the map to enlarge). Stations in red are already confirmed in the project, stations in green are still under analysis.

One line would connect Campinas (one the largest cities in the State of São Paulo) and the airport of Viracopos (international airport) to the city of São Paulo. The other line would connect São Paulo to Rio de Janeiro, with intermediary stations in the airport of Guarulhos, São José dos Campos and Volta Redonda.

bullet-train

Trains will be 200 meters long. Estimated maximum speed is 300 km/h. Estimated travel times, leaving from Rio, are: to Volta Redonda, 34min; to São José dos Campos, 1h17min; to São Paulo, 1h33min; to Campinas, 2h08min. Currently, flying from São Paulo Rio takes about 1h50min, and driving takes about 5 hours.

There will be two categories of services: Express (between Campinas, São Paulo and Rio) and Regional (intermediary cities). Express trains would fit 458 people, in two classes; regional trains will fit 600 people, in one class.

Estimated prices for a ticket São Paulo – Rio are: R$ 150, economic class, off peak trips; R$ 200, economic class, peak time trips; R$ 250, executive class, off peak; R$ 325, executive class, peak time. Currently, a flight costs between R$ 180 (off peak) and R$ 400 (peak). Current exchange rate is US$ 1 = R$ 1.70.

bullet-train-brazil

About 61% of railways will run on surface, 21% across bridges and 18% underground.

bullet-train-costs

Estimated costs total R$ 34.6 billion (about US$ 20 billion). Most of the costs correspond to civil woks; indemnifications will take 11%; systems and equipments will take 10%, and the trains themselves will take 8%.

The powers of CBF

Monday, December 7th, 2009

CBF stands for Confederação Brasileira de Futebol, or Brazilian Confederation of Football; CBF, a confederation, congregates all the football federations in Brazil.

Given the popularity and capillarity of football in Brazil, CBF is one of the most powerful organizations in the country; read the origins of the power of CBF. In Brazil (except for the year of 1987, read further below), there is no League, as in most European countries; in a League, the teams have the final word; in Brazil, CBF has it.

CBF is a private entity; the Government has no injunction on CBF. The official website of CBF is www.cbf.com.br, currently, CBF has some kind of agreement with globo.com, the largest media group in Brazil, whose banners are shown at the top of CBF homepage.

cbf-globo

CBF doesn’t have to open its accounts, neither to the Account Offices of the Government, nor to private owners.

And CBF makes a lot of money.

CBF collects all money earned by the Brazilan team. When Brazil won the Confederations Cup, FIFA paid a prize in cash, collected by CBF. When a big company signs a contract to sponsor the Brazilian team, CBF collects the money; last month, German carmaker Volskwagen announced that will sponsor Brazil until 2014, gaining the right of claiming to be a sponsor (VW is the biggest seller of cars in Brazil) and transporting the team in VW buses – the financial value was not disclosed, as CBF is not obliged to.

More. When Brazilian television chains pay to broadcast matches of Brazilian championships (from 1st to 3rd Division, men or women), it’s CBF who collects the money (and passes it along to the teams – read further belong about the Club of the 13). When Brazil makes friendly matches around the world (why would Brazil play against Oman in the end of November?), it’s CBF who negotiates how much Brazil will be paid, and eventually collects the money.

Of course, CBF has also duties. The most visible of all is to coordinate the activities of the Brazilian National team. CBF pays the salaries of a permanent staff and of all players while they are serving the national team. The players, usually international stars, are accommodated in the best hotels, and eat the best food.

cbf-headquarters

Project of new CBF headquarters

CBF negotiates with TV stations on behalf of the Brazilian teams. CBF, of course, attempts to collect as much money as possible. A problem arises, though, when it comes to share the money between the teams; not all teams are equal, and the money shouldn’t be split equally.

In 1987, this caused a small rebellion. There was no agreement between CBF and the major Brazilian teams, regarding division of TV revenues. That year, instead of submitting to CBF, the major 13 teams in Brazil decided to create the Clube dos 13 (Club of the 13), a kind of League of Clubs.

Clube dos 13 organized a parallel championship in 1987, called Cup João Havelange, which was not officially recognized by CBF. In the end, CBF asked Flamengo and Internacional, winners of João Havelange Cup, to have a play off against Sport Recife and Guarani, winners of the official CBF Brazilian Cup (which was disputed by the weaker teams of then). Flamengo and Inter refused, and Sport Recife was declared official champion of 1987; this is the origin of the controversy of the number of Brazilian championships of Flamengo: four five (already counting the recent title of 2009), according to CBF, or six, according to everybody else.

In 1988, CBF got back in terms with the teams, who managed to gain more voice against the Confederation: since then, the number of teams in the First Division decreased and stabilized in 20.

In the 1970s, the Brazilian tournament reaches nearly 100 teams (see figures here), obliging  big teams like Flamengo and Sao Paulo to travel all around the country. And the reason for that, of course, was not the importance of 100 teams, but because CBF, or rather the President of CBF, wanted to keep small teams happy to gain votes for the next election.

And here comes the figure of the President of CBF. The Confederation probably has a board of directors, but nobody knows anyone but the President. When one says “CBF decided”, one means “the President of CBF decided”.

For a long time, the President of CBF was Joao Havelange, who would later become President of FIFA. Since 1989, President is Ricardo Teixeira, son in law of Havelange.

Photo by: Ricardo Stuckert

Above: Ricardo Teixeira and President Lula; source: Presidency of the Republic.

Teixeira speaks for CBF. Teixeira signs all contracts. Teixeira can’t say who are the players who will play for Brazil, but he says who is the coach.

Teixeira is one of the most known, talked about and powerful man in Brazil.

Transportation infrastructure in Brazil

Wednesday, December 2nd, 2009

Is the transportation infrastructure in Brazil ready for the World Cup 2014? Will it be?

First point: Brazil is much bigger than South Africa, and the host cities of the World Cup 2014 are much more far apart than those in 2010.

In France, Japan, Korea and Germany (hosts of the most recent Cups), the main means of transportation between cities was the train. Brazil has no railway networks for transportation of passengers (most long distance railways operate cargo only); a bidding process is going on to build a bullet train between Rio and Sao Paulo, but it is uncertain whether it will ready by 2014 (estimated costs border US$ 20 billion) – update: the Government already declared that the bullet train will be ready only by 2018.

That means taht there are not and there will not be trains connecting the host cities of the World Cup 2014.

Brazilian airports are poor, compared to those in developed countries. Usually, there is only one major airport in each State (exceptions are only São Paulo, Rio and Minas Gerais), which concentrates all traffic. See notes about the airports here, here and here.

Air control, despite recent accidents (like this and this), is considered safe; however, it is uncertain whether the system will stand the major increase in air traffic expected for the World Cup.

Besides, supply of seats is limited. Just two airlines, TAM and Gol, control about 90% od all flights; there are strong restrictions for other international companies to operate in Brazil. This lack of competition caused the services of both companies to be poor; the companies rank amongst the most complained about in the Consumer Defense Agencies in Brazil. The companies never had interest in expanding the aerial network in Brazil; several of the host cities have no direct connection today (usually, a stop over is necessary in the major hubs: Sao Paulo and Brasilia).

Brazil announced heavy investments in airports, but frauds and delays are already being reported. It is dubious whether air companies will have the willing and the money to buy new aircrafts.

Brazil has an extensive network of highways. Several roads are in bad conditions, but the Governments are making efforts to improve them, either by chartering operations to private parties (NovaDutra operates the highway between Rio and Sao Paulo), or by investing large amounts of money (BR-101, which connects Salvador, Recife, Natal and Fortaleza, will be double laned next year).

So, long distance highways should be in good conditions for 2014. It remains to be seem if foreign visitors will endure the long distance drivings and the proverbial lack of education of Brazilian drivers (from 1999 to 2007, a staggering 254,000 deaths occurred in transit accidents in Brazil).

Governments are investment heavily to improve urban circulation; more highways, more metros, better urbanization. This will certainly help the residents, but won’t help visitors move around cities.

Then, there are ships. Almost all host cities have a port nearby. Cruises are growing in Brazil, and ships may be an option in 2014.

So, if the poor infrastructure in South Africa raises concerns in CBF, the situation in Brazil seems even worse.