Brazil starts 2014 football World Cup countdown

Brazil has begun its countdown for the 2014 World Cup, 1,000 days before it hosts the football tournament.President Dilma Rousseff launched the event at a stadium in Belo Horizonte alongside the footballing legend Pele, who is Brazil’s World Cup ambassador.Ms Rousseff promised the new stadiums and other infrastructure required would be ready on time, despite major difficulties and delays.The tournament will kick off on 12 June 2014.Before then, Brazil must build or upgrade 12 stadiums.

Many of them are behind schedule and over budget.At some, construction workers have been on strike – including the Maracana in Rio de Janeiro where the final will be played and the Mineirao ground in Belo Horizonte where President Rousseff started the countdown.Building work on the new Itaquerao stadium in Sao Paulo – which is hoping to host the opening game – only began in May. Brazil must also deliver huge infrastructure developments such as roads and airport terminals so that fans can move between the 12 venues spread across the huge country.Much of that transport infrastructure is anyway badly needed to meet the demands of Brazil’s booming economy and expanding middle class.

“Investing in infrastructure is a way of saying no to the international crisis affecting countries in the Eurozone and the US,” Ms Rousseff said.The 2014 World Cup will be the first in South America since Argentina hosted the tournament in 1978, and the first in Brazil since 1950.Correspondents say most Brazilians are confident they will make a success of hosting the tournament – after all, they have already won it World Cup five times.Rio de Janeiro is also due to host the Olympic Games in 2016.The two tournaments are being seen as statements of Brazil’s emergence as a rising global economic power of the 21st Century, much as the 2008 Beijing Olympics served as a calling card for China’s confident new role on the global stage. – BBC