Brazil World Cup stadium suffers storm damage

Mineirao Stadium in the FIFA World Cup city of Belo Horizonte

A seasonal storm in the World Cup host city of Belo Horizonte damaged the Mineirao stadium over the weekend, Xinhua news agency reports.

Parts of the roof flew onto the pitch of the recently rebuilt stadium in Belo Horizonte just before a state championship match on Saturday.

Mineirao will host six matches during the 2014 FIFA World Cup and US$300 million have been spent on redeveloping the stadium.

Video footage published by Brazilian newspaper Folha de S. Paulo showed three metallic plates landing onto the pitch less than one hour before the match, according to Xinhua.

Such storms are not unusual at this time of year, according to a weather institute in the state of Minas Gerais. More than 10cm of rain had fallen in three hours, with winds of up to 36km per hour.

The manager of Cruziero football team, which played on Saturday’s match, complained of the standard of the pitch. According to Xinhua, he said "Questions have to be asked. Is this pitch up to FIFA standard? I think the quality needs to be better.”

Host City invited the Belo Horizonte World Cup Organising Committee to comment on the incident at Mineirao but has yet to receive a response.

FIFA Secretary General Jerome Valcke voiced concerns about the readiness of World Cup venues at a press conference at FIFA’s headquarters in Zurich on Saturday.

"We are almost at 100 days before the first game starts in a stadium in Sao Paulo which is still not ready and won't be ready until May 15. And as you know another two stadiums [in Curitiba and Manaus] are quite late.

"For sure, the stadiums are beautiful but now it is a challenge for the organisers. And that is not a criticism. It is just a challenge. We have to find the solutions."

Wembley Stadium strikes unprecedented brand partnership with EE


England’s national stadium announced on Wednesday that advanced British digital communications company EE has become its lead partner.

The partnership will run for six years, starting with immediate effect. The first event at the EE-sponsored stadium will be the Capital One Cup Final on March 2. 

This is the first time Wembley – one of the biggest brands in football – has signed a lead brand partner in its 90-year history. The partnership will be represented by a new logo, but the world-renowned name of the stadium will remain unchanged.

Wembley National Stadium Ltd said the partnership has been agreed on the basis of an ambition to make Wembley the most connected stadium in the world – ensuring it sits alongside the most technologically advanced stadiums across the globe for years to come. 

Melvin Benn, chairman of Wembley said “As stadia around the world become increasingly more technologically advanced, EE is the perfect partner to assist us in fulfilling that goal, giving event owners and their fans the best possible and unforgettable shared experiences.”

Wembley will benefit from multi-million pound investment in its technological infrastructure over the course of the six-year partnership to offer visitors the best possible experience. The deal also includes the launch of Wembley’s first bespoke app, which offers fans a dynamic feed of event content as well as stadium and travel information.

Olaf Swantee, CEO at EE, said "Over the coming months, we will announce an exciting programme of upgrades and innovations to the existing infrastructure at Wembley that will ensure the stadium offers visitors a world class spectator experience for many years to come.”

Future technological advancements to come from EE over the six-year deal include mobile ticketing solutions, enhanced mobile network access and high speed Wi-Fi available for all. EE customers will benefit from exclusive ticketing and marketing initiatives from late March.

“I’m delighted that we have secured EE as Wembley Stadium Lead Partner,” said Peter Daire, FA Group head of sponsorship. “We have diligently taken our time, in collaboration with Wasserman, in sourcing a technology brand that shares our enthusiasm and commitment and EE will help to make the Wembley fan experience the best it can be.”

The partnership adds to Wembley’s existing sponsorship agreements with Carlsberg, Betfred, Walkers, Coca-Cola, Mars and National Express.

PwC renews SportAccord Convention gold partnership

PwC and Sochi 2014

SportAccord Convention announced on Tuesday that PwC will be a Gold Partner of this year’s event, which takes place from 6-11 April 2014 in Belek/Antalya, Turkey. The agreement marks PwC’s second year as a Gold Partner. 

“The first year of our partnership with SportAccord Convention was extremely successful and we are very pleased to be continuing as a Gold Partner in 2014,” said Robert Gruman, PwC Russia Advisory Leader, who heads PwC's Global Sports Mega-Events Centre of Excellence.

“SportAccord Convention provides us with networking opportunities and enhances our ability to build relationships with International Federations and the global sports movement.”

PwC’s Sports Mega-Events Centre of Excellence comprises a network of professionals experienced in bringing value at all phases of the sports mega-events lifecycle. 

For the Sochi 2014 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games, PwC’s experts, in partnership with the Sochi Organising Committee, are carrying out over 200 projects in several key areas, from strategic and operational planning to supply chain management, from HR consulting to risk management. 

“Our Gold Partnership with PwC has been of great value to us as an organisation and we are gratified to know that the feeling is mutual” said Nis Hatt, Managing Director of SportAccord Convention.

“We are very pleased that the partnership is continuing and that we are able to provide a platform for PwC to meet its business objectives.”

In 2013, PwC conducted the first Economic Impact Study of SportAccord Convention and estimated the direct and indirect impact of the event in Saint Petersburg, Russia at USD7.69 million.


Qatar to invest $45bn in tourism beyond World Cup

Qatar aims to almost double tourism’s share of GDP over the next 16 years through investments from government and business. The bold vision was announced at the launch of the Qatar National Tourism Sector Strategy 2030 on Monday.

"Our aim is to have the tourism industry contribute a total of 5.1 per cent of GDP by 2030, up from 2.6 per cent today,” said Hassan Al Ibrahim, director of strategy at the Qatar Tourism Authority. 

“USD 40 to 45 billion of investments by the government and the private sector will make this vision a reality."

The FIFA World Cup in 2022 will be a phenomenal showcase for Qatar and the country is under pressure to deliver a legacy for the tourism and events sectors.

"The strategy strives to fully capitalise on Qatar's tourism potential and represents the aspirations of the Qatari people for the future of their country,” said His Excellency Issa bin Mohammed Al Mohannadi, chairman of the Qatar Tourism Authority.

The strategy envisions Qatar as “a world class hub with deep cultural roots”, further placing the country on the world tourism map and allowing people from around the world to recognize and appreciate what it has to offer via its unique culture and heritage.

"Tourism is a vital pillar in Qatar's development efforts and a key driver of socio-economic growth in the country" said Al Mohannadi.

1.2 million people visited Qatar in 2012, mainly from Saudi Arabia and other Gulf nations. The tourism authority is seeking to widen the range of markets of origin by setting up eight new satellite offices in key outbound markets, in addition to existing offices in London and Paris. 

"Our target is to attract 7 million visitors to Qatar from all over the world by 2030," said Al Ibrahim. 

With a target of USD 10.7bn to be generated from tourism in 2030, the strategy places much greater emphasis on the private sector in the economy with an increased role for entrepreneurship and SMEs. 

It is hoped that investments in infrastructure already underway will bring rewards. The new Doha Exhibition and Convention Centre (DECC), described by the tourism authority as a “game-changer for the MICE sector,” is scheduled to open in 2014. Also opening in 2014 is Hamad International Airport, which promises to become an important hub for transit passengers.

Violent demonstration a “major concern” for Brazil World Cup

Ralf Mutschke, FIFA's director of security, said the protests in 2013 were not directed at FIFA

Security at the 2014 World Cup was high on the agenda at FIFA’s National Teams Workshop in Florianopolis on Thursday, with Brazilian officials announcing the deployment of 170,000 security professionals to ensure the safe hosting of the event.

The majority of these security personnel will come from the police and armed forces. Speaking at a FIFA press conference, Andrei Rodrigues, of the Brazilian Ministry of Justice’s special secretariat for security at major events (SESGE) said “150,000 public-security and armed-forces professionals will be involved, with SESGE investing BRL1.17b [USD 500m] and the Ministry of Defence some BRL708m [USD 300m].

“These are resources deployed solely for the purposes of providing security to the population on an everyday basis.”

In addition to this investment, the Local Organising Committee (LOC) announced that a further 20,000 workers from the private sector will be engaged in delivering event security. The LOC’s head of security Hilario Medeiros said “It is very clear that Brazil is ready in terms of its various organisations and private security, with some 20,000 men being trained in event security."

With the 2013 Confederations Cup having taken place amid scenes of serious civil unrest, the security secretariat is understandably worried about the potential for violence. Rodrigues said “We do have one major concern, which is not the fact that people might demonstrate, as they are just exercising their democratic right in doing so. Our concern is with any violence that occurs as part of those demonstrations.

“The Confederations Cup was an example of that. There was one day in June when there were more than one million people on the streets and we had more than 50,000 officers working. Even so, the competition schedule was not affected, the demonstrations did not impact on the delegations and there were no injuries caused by the actions of the officers.”

FIFA proud to be in Brazil
FIFA’s director of security Ralf Mutschke denied that last year’s protests were directed at the sports federation. “We saw some social unrest and vandalism at the FIFA Confederations Cup in 2013, but that does not mean to say that we are going to reduce our presence, hide ourselves away or keep our symbols under cover.

“We do not feel, in fact, that we are the main target of the demonstrators. Obviously the protests had something to do with the Confederations Cup and the fact that Brazil and the whole world was watching the competition. We don’t feel that we are the targets, though. Far from it: we are proud to be here in Brazil.”

Al Wakrah unveiled

Al Wakrah

HOST CITY: How does the design of Al Wakrah stadium fulfil obligations to FIFA?

Al Khater: Throughout the design process, the Qatar 2022 Supreme Committee has been working with AECOM and Zaha Hadid Architects to ensure all of FIFA’s stadium requirements, from bowl design to seating capacity, are fulfilled.

Al Wakrah Stadium’s concept design was developed to exceed FIFA’s requirements while remaining consistent with Qatar’s existing and future sports infrastructure needs.

HOST CITY: What will happen to the elements of the modular design that are to be removed after the World Cup?

Al Khater: Many of our stadia will include demountable grandstands. Those stadia will be downsized after the 2022 FIFA World Cup to ensure that Qatar is left with venues that are fit for purpose. Approximately 170,000 seats will be donated to countries in need of sporting infrastructure, which will be determined in conjunction with FIFA and the continental football confederations.

HOST CITY: How does the design of Al Wakrah enable it to act as a community hub?

Al Khater: Our plans are fully inclusive. We have listened to the community’s needs and taken into consideration their desires in the stadium and precinct plans and will continue to do so throughout stadium construction. As a reflection of these needs, the Al Wakrah Stadium Precinct will include:

  • Two FIFA-compliant training pitches fully cooled to an optimal 26 degrees Celsius.
  • A multi-purpose indoor arena incorporating two indoor halls and four tennis courts Two basketball courts and associated support facilities.
  • A four-star business hotel with 150 rooms to support Al Wakr h as a fledging business hub.
  • 5,000-10,000 sq m retail space available to Qatari entrepreneurs to incubate SMEs.
  • A hospitality vocational training centre to train-up the local and regional youth, who will welcome the world to Qatar in 2022 and form the fabric of a Middle Eastern event management industry.
  • An international school for 1,000 pupils incorporating a 400m running track 

HOST CITY: The 2022 FIFA World Cup is currently scheduled to take place in the summer. How will the stadium create a comfortable experience for players and fans?

Al Khater: The Qatar 2022 Supreme Committee and teams of international climate control experts have developed environmentally-friendly outdoor cooling technologies and strategies to be deployed at stadiums, training sites, fan zones and other areas where fans, team delegations, match officials, media representatives and the FIFA family will congregate.

Modernising Brazil’s transport infrastructure

Brazil train station

As the fifth biggest country in the world by both area and population, transport is a huge issue for Brazil. Developments in transport infrastructure have lagged behind the recent acceleration of the country’s economy, but the government is now investing heavily in building networks that will enable economic growth to continue unhindered.

“Brazil, due to its continental dimensions with its 8.5m sq km in area, needs to integrate its several regions and therefore afford mobility to its population,” says César Borges, Brazil’s Minister of Transport. “This is why we are gathering together public and private resources in partnerships to make sure that we allow better logistics throughout our different transportation modalities, including roads, railways, and waterways, in order to meet the demand that we have and to reduce logistics complexities and costs, and therefore add competiveness to our industries.”

In the air
The World Cup in 2014 will feature 12 host cities that straddle this vast expanse of land. Due to the large distances between host cities, large numbers of fans will have to travel by air between games. This is where Brazil faces some of its biggest challenges.

“We are increasing the number of flights available. We are reinforcing the capacity of Brazilian airlines to offer more seats during the World Cup. And we are ensuring that airports are ready to meet this increased demand during the Games, particularly those in the host cities, to receive passengers quickly to allow for expedited check-in and check-out for all passengers,” says Borges.

Brazil is in the process of renovating its airports. “There are currently five airports under concession being modernized, including the Galeão Airport in Rio, which I expect to be completed or near completion by 2016.”

All the other airports are being renovated, expanded, managed, or improved by Infraero, the Brazilian Airport Infrastructure Company, instead of being awarded under concession. “Infraero will open its capital to attract operators from all over the world that can come and bring expertise to Infraero, improving the operation of the airports that Infraero currently works on – either recovering, expanding, or managing their operations.”

On the road 
Journeys between some of the host cities will be possible by road. It is only 184 miles from Natal to Recife, for instance. From Rio de Janeiro, it is 266 miles to São Paulo and 269 miles to Belo Horizonte.

“Brazil already has a very extensive highway network with more than 55,000 km of paved highways in extension. These roads, under the federal government’s responsibility, are in a very good state,” says Borges.

Duplication – the creation of dual carriageways – is an important area of development. “We have recently awarded about 5,520 km of highway under concession schemes and approximately 5,000 km of highway have already been duplicated. Therefore, mobility through Brazilian highways has its safety and expediency guaranteed during the World Cup.

“There are 2,500 km of road duplications planned for the near future and we also need new roads in new areas of the country, particularly in the Midwest and the North. We are identifying new highway passages or highway stretches that are attractive for investment, both due to their vehicle movement, to the cargo movement, or to the passenger movement.”

Railroad revolution
Today, rail transport in Brazil is virtually non-existent, with just a few routes available. This is all about to change. “We want to have a new, a completely new railroad network for the country that is 11,000 km long, which unless I’m mistaken is something unforeseen in the world,” says Borges.

The Superior Court of Audits (TCU) is currently evaluating contracts for two major stretches of railway. One is for the Açailândia-Barcarena passage, which would complete a major route called the North-South Railroad. “It will connect the port of Rio Grande in the very deep south of Brazil to the city of Barcarena in the mouth of the Amazon River up in the north – approximately 7,000 km of railroad – which will become a very large spinal cord of a railroad system.”

The North-South Railroad will intersect with an East-West Railroad. This network will be open access, which means that several operators will be able to use it. “The federal government has taken measures to show that the open access model is the one that will best serve this new infrastructure being built with these largegauge railroads, which will run at 80 km per hour and are very efficient.”

The primary motivation for the rail network is to enable the transport of materials and commodities. Passenger services are not planned on these routes. 

High speed rail delays
A high speed rail (HSR) link between Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo was originally planned to be operational in time for the 2014 World Cup. However, the tendering process has not gone according to plan and the line is unlikely to be in service before even the Olympic Games in 2016.

“We need to build a model that attracts the most bidders possible who want to invest in the sector,” says Borges. “The model we considered this year and proposed for market evaluation only attracted one company, Alstom. And since this one company was under queries or investigations by the Government of Sao Paulo, the federal government decided to refine the model to make sure that it was more attractive to more bidders.

“The obstacles here for attraction of companies particularly include demonstrating that we have cargo movement and passenger movement demands that are sufficient for a high-speed rail system. We need to demonstrate that we have very high levels of cargo in Campinas, Sao Paulo, and Rio de Janeiro, which are the main city centres or urban centres to be served by the high-speed rail system. These centres have very strong passenger flows and it is certain that only a high-speed rail can prevent the need for building of new airports and new roads to serve these city areas in the future.

“This is why the Ministry of Transports is working hard to implement a high-speed rail system. And we expect by the end of 2014, after the elections, or by 2015, to begin having our HSR or high-speed rail auctions.

“We need the high-speed rail model and the federal government believes in implementing the high-speed rail model. It is of course complex and subject to debate, but it is a model that pays for itself due to the passenger demand that it creates. And I am sure that we can implement it. It is a necessary stage in the country’s development path, which we will pursue staunchly."

Rio 2016
Host City asked Borges about whether the success of London 2012 is influencing Rio de Janeiro’s plans for transport networks during the Olympic Games. “As a Minister working closely with the federal government, I can say that I believe Brazil is doing everything to make sure that we make good use of all successful experiences from all Olympic Games organizers throughout the world, including London, which had a very well organized and successful Olympics, to help organize ours,” he said.

“We have some structural issues, but the city of Rio de Janeiro and the federal government have been working together to ensure that all sectors involved can be correctly contemplated in the organization of the Olympics, and transportation is certainly one of the sectors that deserves the most attention amongst those.”

“Rio is also doing renovation work to its urban mobility network in general, and to its road network, to allow all of those visiting the Olympic Games to be able to move to and fro appropriately and adequately.”

Public finance, overseas capital
Brazil’s transport plans are being realised through a combination of public and private finance. With road and rail plans are all scheduled to be executed within five years, a period of intense investment is underway.

“The Ministry of Transports is investing about 15 billion reais per year, and that number is growing through the growth exploration programme, or the PAC, as it is called in Portuguese.”

This programme started in 2007. “Since then, very strong investments have been made in the area and in budget terms, they were decoupled from government expenses – which means that these investments do not influence the country’s primary surplus. We were able to spend and are able to spend on our infrastructure without affecting other areas of the government.”

The participation of global businesses will be crucial in delivering these projects. “We would like to have participation from international capital in this process. We want to have companies come in who want to join the country and be partners of the federal government, and of the private initiative, including through joint ventures and special representatives. We are planning investments of above 250 billion reais and we want the international private sector as well – logistics operators, large construction companies, and others to come and work here.

“We already have two Spanish companies in the railroad sector and would like to have more companies work on the road and railroad sectors with Brazil. We already have Chinese companies interested in coming. We have already received authorities from the UK, from the US and from other countries who are interested in investing in these sectors and we are more than open to receive them as partners.

“We want to make sure that what matters most is that Brazilian logistics can overcome this large period we have had in the past, during which our infrastructure system was neglected and stayed in the last century. We want to bring true 21st century logistics infrastructure to Brazil.”