Five sad and shocking facts about World Cup corruption in Brazil


Brasilia’s World Cup stadium is the second-most expensive in the world. (Eraldo Peres/AP)

This is not a feel-good story. With just more than a month until the World Cup kicks off in Brazil, the Associated Press came out with a scathing report today outlining the outsize corruption and skyrocketing costs that have marred the country’s preparations. Here are the five saddest and most shocking things we learned:

1) One of the priciest stadiums in the world has a dim future. The Mane Garrincha World Cup stadium in Brasilia, a city of roughly 2.5 million people, cost about $900 million in public funds to build, which makes it the second-most expensive soccer stadium ever. (The first is England’s Wembley Stadium at $1.25 billion.) The budget was supposed to be $300 million, but alleged fraud tripled it, the AP reports. Perhaps it’s an investment for Brasilia’s hometown team? Nope. Brasilia doesn’t have a major professional soccer team.

2) The price discrepancies are laughably ridiculous. An auditor’s report allotted $4,700 to cover the costs of transportation of prefabricated grandstands to Brasilia’s stadium. But the construction consortium charged the government $1.5 million, the AP reports. That’s  a 318 times the original cost. Or, in wackier terms, a 31,000 percent mark-up.

3) Politicians and politics have a lot to do with the problems. Andrade Gutierrez, the construction conglomerate that’s been awarded stakes in contracts that total about one-fourth of the World Cup’s $11.5 billion price tag, contributed $73,180 to 2008′s municipal elections, the AP reports. In 2012, after it was known which cities would host the World Cup, the company’s political contributions soared to $37.1 million. That’s a 50,000 percent increase.

4) At least federal investigators have job security. The World Cup hasn’t even begun and “there are at least a dozen separate federal investigations into World Cup spending,” the AP reports. That seems like a lot until the AP goes on to report 40 percent of Brazilian congressmen have criminal cases pending against them, according to a watchdog group called Focus on Congress.

5) Some Brazilians are really, really not excited to host the World Cup. “That’s a monument to national sadness and waste,” security guard Paulo Rodrigues told AP of Brasilia’s stadium. “I’m not against the Cup, but I’m frustrated with the spending and the corruption we all know it involves. When politicians build a road, even if there are kickbacks, at least at the end we have a road. With this stadium, we have nothing.”

Marissa Payne writes for The Early Lead, a fast-breaking sports blog, where she focuses on what she calls the “cultural anthropological” side of sports, aka “mostly the fun stuff.” She is also an avid WWE fan.
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