Brazil have taken an enormous step to realising their 2014 World Cup ambitions after the first of 12 new stadiums was announced open this week.
The Castelao Arena, in the city of Fortaleza, was inaugurated in an opening ceremony attended by President Dilma Rousseff. The project comes in on schedule and cost an approximate £153.5m to fully renovate a 40-year-old stadium, which has hosted international matches since the 1980s.
It was all smiles and laughter at the opening ceremony and the President used the opportunity to congratulate Brazil’s capability of achieving success both on the football field and in building stadiums, yet there are still major concerns some projects will not be finished.
The Maracana Stadium – Brazil’s historic arena that will host the World Cup final in 2014 – is slightly behind schedule, while the Arena da Amazonia in Manaus is still very much a construction site.
Meanwhile FIFA general secretary, Jerome Valcke, recently claimed one of Brazil’s host cities has just 17,000 hotel rooms for a 45,000-seater stadium, while a report by the Brazil Audits Office claimed a multi-million-pound rail infrastructure project in another city would not be complete until after the World Cup.
However, many Brazilians will claim this is just scaremongering from the media and tactics by FIFA to get the government into more decisive action. The Castelao Arena’s completion proves Brazil is on track and just about on budget to host football’s largest tournament in 18 months’ time.
Granted, there is still work to do and the Castelao itself looks bare without the billboards, flags and vibrant supporters that will eventually fill its terraces. But faith should be put in Brazil to host a successful World Cup. South Africa did it in 2010 despite greater pressures from the international community, so there is no reason to believe Brazil cannot better that success.