Brazil's World Cup Stadium Collapses, Killing Three

Here's hoping you don’t have your tickets booked for Brazil’s 2014 World Cup just yet: the upcoming tournament suffered another setback Wednesday morning when a crane collapsed on the Arena Corinthians stadium in Sao Paulo, destroying part of the stadium and killing three people. The Corinthians stadium is one of many arenas being built in Brazil for the World Cup, and was expected to be the location for the opening games. The [breathtakingly beautiful and super large] South American country is scheduled for an influx of visitors in June and July 2014 for the 20th FIFA World Cup, which will draw teams from 32 nations and have games in 12 of Brazil’s cities. It seemed like a perfect plan ... before everything started going horribly wrong.

In June of 2013, massive public protests erupted in Brazil, motivated by economic inequality and rising public transportation prices. The protestors compared were outraged by the cost of hosting the World Cup in a country where there basically is no middle class, and the rich and poor live worlds apart. They were violently shut down by government forces (as are the continuing ripples of the original riots — yours truly got a little taste of tear gas in Rio this September). The protestors got some of their demands met, but didn’t stop the World Cup, despite this viral video:

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As early as August, it became apparent that Brazil’s elaborate World Cup scheme was far behind schedule: though the government had tripled the budget for World Cup stadiums, at least five stadiums were behind schedule. A situation report before today’s collapse had two stadiums experiencing severe delays. (The stadium in Manaus, the Amazonian state, was especially difficult given the surrounding rainforest and the equatorial sunlight — the latter of which might melt normal plastic.) Those who worked on South Africa’s 2010 World Cup suggest that it might be time to start around-the-clock construction.

FIFA had wanted all of them complete by December, to allow ample time for testing other equipment for the games. The Sao Paulo stadium was not one that was expected to have a lot of trouble before Wednesday’s incident, but it is perhaps emblematic of Brazil’s troubles with the World Cup: high expectations, but disastrous realities.