World Cup 2014 Preview
Next week will see the World Cup returning to the country who have become the masters of the beautiful game. It will be the first time that the tournament will be held in Brazil since 1950. Unfortunately Ireland failed to make it to the tournament this year but all expectations point to this being one of the most memorable World Cups ever held. There is a sense that the World Cup is coming home as many believe that football belongs in Brazil. There is little doubt that in the home of carnival and samba, this summer’s tournament will be a party like no other. Here is an insight into some of the cities and stadiums that will be hosting World Cup matches during this summer’s tournament.
Sao Paulo is the financial and business hub of Brazil. Sao Paulo is the biggest city in the country and it also ranks among the most populated in the world, with just over 11 million people living there. The city is located in the south-eastern region of the country and it is nicknamed Terra da Garoa (Land of the Drizzle) after its notorious changeable weather and its plentiful rainfall.
Sao Paulo’s work-oriented vocation attracted huge contingents of immigrants after the turn of the 19th century. The result of this means that the capital of the state of Sao Paulo is by far the most ethnically diverse city in Brazil, hosting an estimated 100 different ethnicities that have helped put up the country’s major economy, responsible for 12,26 per cent of the country’s gross domestic product.
Although it is an inevitable business destination, it is not all about work for the paulistanos: Sao Paulo is a high-profile cultural centre that displays a wide range of options, from various top-flight concerts and exhibitions to a massive food culture of more than 12,000 restaurants. The city is also bursting with tourist attractions that go further than its staggering skyline, such as the Japanese district of Liberdade, the Ibirapuera Park, the several high-profile shopping malls and a vibrant city centre.
Sao Paulo is the home for the two busiest airports in South America. Congonhas and the International Andre Franco Montoro Airport – commonly known as Guarulhos Airport or Cumbica fly to 28 different countries worldwide.
Sao Paulo is the unquestionably the birthplace of the beautiful game in Brazil. The city was home to Charles Miller who was a British descendent who brought football to the city in 1894 and helped its rapid rise in popularity throughout the country.
Three of Brazil’s most powerful clubs are from Sao Paul. The old-time rivals Corinthians, Palmeiras and Sao Paulo, who together have won an impressive 14 Campeonato Brasileiro titles. Both Corinthians and Sao Paulo have lifted the FIFA Club World Club trophy, Corinthians in 2000 and 2012 and Sao Paulo in 2005. Other traditional clubs like Portuguesa de Desportos and Juventus are the other clubs who reside in this football mad city.
Sao Paulo’s home ground, the Morumbi, is the city’s biggest stadium and was one of the venues of the first FIFA Club World Club, in 2000. The Pacaembu stadium in the city is home to a phenomenal Football Museum and the stadium hosted six matches the last time the World Cup was held in the country in 1950.
Arena de Sao Paulo
Stadium name: Arena de Sao Paulo
Better known as: Arena Corinthians
Location: Sao Paulo
The stadium will play host to six fixtures at the 2014 World Cup, including the second semi-final and the competition’s curtain-raiser on 12 June. The Arena de Sao Paulo will undoubtedly be one of the most prominent locations of the summer.
The stadium itself is completely brand new and purpose-built for this summer’s tournament. The capacity of 65,000 will be reduced by 20,000 after the competition ends, when Sport Club Corinthians Paulista, who are one of the Sao Paulo’s most popular sides will take up residence there. The five-time champions of Brazil’s top league and double FIFA Club World Cup winners are moving 25km across town from their current Pacaembu Stadium home.
The construction of this ultra-modern city, situated in the centre of Brazil, began in 1956. Since its official foundation on 21 April 1960, the city has served the purpose for which it was built, to replace Rio de Janeiro as the country’s capital. As a result, the bulk of Brazil’s federal administration and political power are located in the city.
The move to take the capital away from the coast gradually began gathering momentum after Brazil gained independence in 1822. The switch was intended to symbolise the country’s change from a colonial state to an independent nation, and this intention was legally documented in 1891 by an article in the Constitution. But it was not until 1953, under the presidency of Getulio Vargas, that the idea resurfaced. It was left to president, Juscelino Kubitschek, to bring theidea to life, with the start of construction in 1956 and the city’s official founding four years later both coming during his time in office.
One of the city’s striking features is its wide avenues, which surround both its public buildings and its two districts, one to the north and the other to the south. These are divided into so-called superblocks, each of which contains numerous buildings. The central part of the cross is the Praça dos Três Poderes (Three Powers’ Square). Here can be found the country’s seats of Executive and Legislative Power as well as the headquarters of the Supreme Federal Court.
Widely considered to be an avant-garde city in architectural terms, the Metropolitan Cathedral of Brasilia and the Juscelino Kubitschek Bridge are without doubt the most iconic structures. Both were designed by Oscar Niemeyer, the man behind most of the landmark buildings in the new capital. Due to its architectural feats, Brasilia is the only city in the world constructed in the 20th century to have been declared a World Heritage site by UNESCO.
While primarily attracting diplomatic and business visitors, Brasilia holds enough interesting sites for the leisure traveller, especially if you are interested in architecture, gourmet food, shopping and vibrant nightlife.
The city has a recognized tradition in hosting first-rate sporting events and was one of the host cities of the FIFA Futsal World Cup 2008, which was played at the Nilson Nelson which is a sports hall situated right in front of the brand new Estadio Nacional Mane Garrincha – a 70,000-seater that is now one of the biggest stadiums in the country.
The city also boasts two other important football grounds in the Serejao, where Brasiliense plays its home matches, and the Bezerrao which was completely redesigned and inaugurated in November 2008 when the national side enjoyed an impressive 6-2 win over bitter rivals Portugal.
Stadium name: Estadio Nacional de Brasilia
Brasilia’s brand new Estadio Nacional de Brasilia has been built in place of the recently dismantled Estadio Nacional Mané Garrincha and was unveiled in May 2013.
The environmentally friendly Nacional stadium which aims to be carbon neutral can hold more than 70,000 spectators, making it the second largest arena to feature at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
The stadium will play host to fixtures throughout the World Cup in 2014, including one Round of 16 tie, the quarter-finals and the third place play-off.
To some, the new arena will always be known as the Mané Garrincha, a name attributed to its predecessor in honour of the Brazilian football legend of the same name. Garrincha won two World Cups for the country and played alongside Pelé in what’s considered by many people across the world to be the greatest national side of all time.
Rio de Janeiro
On 1 January 1502, the Portuguese explorer Gaspar de Lemos brought his ship into a bay on the Brazilian coast, which is now called Guanabara Bay. Mistakenly confusing the bay with the mouth of a river, he named it Rio de Janeiro which literally translates as the January River.
The city of Rio de Janeiro itself was founded on 1 March 1565 by Estacio de Sa, and was the seat of Brazilian politics from 1764 until 1960, when it was replaced by Brasilia. Nonetheless, Rio remains Brazil’s most popular tourist destination and cultural hotspot, besides being the country’s second most populous metropolis with just over 6 million residents.
As well as its incomparable natural beauty, Rio’s rich history has also contributed to making the city known and loved across the globe. The highlights of the Rio calendar include the New Year’s Eve celebrations and world-famous Carnival. Rio de Janeiro is without doubt a city packed with contrasts. Its striking colonial architecture recalls a bygone era in the county’s history while its imposing modern buildings represent a bright future. Perhaps the two most iconic sights are the Sugarloaf Mountain and the statue of Christ the Redeemer, which sits atop the Corcovado Mountain.
Rio de Janeiro is the very depiction of Brazilian football with all forms of the global game taking part at any time day or night on its streets, public parks and vast beaches. It comes as no surprise, then, that the city is the birthplace of such world-renowned footballers as Jairzinho, Zico, Ronaldo and Romario, to name but a few.
Four of Brazil’s biggest and most popular clubs are based in the Cidade Maravilhosa (Marvelous City). Botafogo, Fluminense, Vasco da Gama and Flamengo, the club with the country’s biggest fan base which is a staggering 30 million supporters.
Football is like a religion for the locals of Rio and there place of worship is without doubt the Maracana stadium which is arguably the most famous stadium in the world. It is officially named the Mario Filho Stadium, after a famous sports journalist and the Maracana was inaugurated shortly before the 1950 FIFA World Cup in Brazil and hosted five of the home country’s six matches in that competition, including the fateful 1-2 loss to Uruguay in the final match of the tournament.
That infamous defeat on 16 July 1950 has been forever known as Maracanazo (the Maracana blow). The game has been remembered as a national disaster in Brazil.
The Maracana stadium has been given a brand new look for the World Cup, in an attempt to offer supporters absolute comfort when attending the matches at the famous stadium.
Stadium name: Estádio Jornalista Mário Filho
Better known as: Estádio do Maracana
Location: Rio de Janeiro
Built for the 1950 FIFA World Cup Brazil, the Estadio Jornalista Mario Filho, better known as the Maracana, provided the venue for that year’s truly memorable decider between the host nation and Uruguay, one of the most dramatic chapters in the history of the competition.
That memorable game took place in front of nearly 200,000 spectators, and though the updated stadium has a reduced capacity, it’s still Brazil’s biggest venue and has managed to retain its original layout and façade.
The Rio de Janeiro stadium will be in the limelight once again at Brazil 2014, hosting seven games in all, more than any other venue. Among those matches will be the Final on 13 July.
The Maracana was once the largest stadium in the world, managing to pack in crowds of up to 200,000 people which are among the highest attendance ever seen in the history of the game. The stadium now has a reduced capacity of 75,117 for Brazil 2014. However, it remains the country’s largest and most impressive football ground.
Respecting the original layout of the stadium, the project for its refurbishment included the demolition of the lower ring of seats, the construction of a new ring offering improved visibility for supporters, the expansion of the access ramps and the replacement of all seating which was needed to bring the stadium up to code for the World Cup. The stadium is also be fitted with a new roof complete with a rainwater collection system.
The facade, which has been listed by the National Institute of Historical and Artistic Heritage, remains untouched as it is a historical landmark. Rio’s second most popular tourist attraction, the Maracana continued to attract football fans from all over the world, even as it underwent renovation, such is the stadiums infamy throughout the world. Visitors to the stadium could watch work unfold from the Torre de Vidro (Glass Tower), built especially for the occasion, and could even take a piece of the old stadium away with them as a souvenir which many tourists did.
Although it was officially founded as a village in 1726, and would only become the capital of Ceara in 1799, Fortaleza (Portuguese for ‘fortress’) owes its name to the period between 1637 to 1654, when it was controlled by the Dutch, who built the Schoonenborch Fort.
Featuring 34 kilometres of wonderful beaches, Fortaleza has been one of the main tourist destinations in the north-east of Brazil for several years. It has also developed into an important economic centre and a densely populated metropolitan area: over 2.4 million people reside within its 313 square kilometers.
Most of the tourist attractions in Fortaleza revolve around its beaches: the Praia do Futuro (Future Beach) popular for its several barracas – simple kiosk-restaurants built on the sand that serve fresh, typical seafood – while Iracema is the place for bars and nightclubs. There is also more bucolic Mucuripe Beach, from where fishermen venture into the sea with their jangadas (handmade wooden boats).
The coastal Beira Mar avenue is also the place for a traditional daily craftsmen’s fair and for some of the top spots to dance the forro, a typical rhythm from the north-east of Brazil.Over the decades, Fortaleza has invested in infra-structure for tourism and in new features such as the Centro Dragão do Mar de Arte e Cultura (Sea Dragon Art and Culture Centre) and the Beach Park, Brazil’s largest water park, with several cutting-edge speed-slides distributed along 35,000 square kilometres.
Two of the most popular clubs from the north-east of Brazil come from Fortaleza: Ceara Sporting Club and Fortaleza Esporte Clube. Both teams have historically shared the attention of the fans throughout the whole state of Ceará, as well as the state titles.
The two sides have also played memorable roles in national competitions: Ceará were the runner-ups in the Copa do Brasil in 1994, when they lost to Gremio, and they reached the semi finals in 2005, while Fortaleza finished runners-up twice in the Taca Brasil (a predecessor to the Campeonato Brasileiro), in 1960 and 1968.
The city of Fortaleza offers two main stadiums for the matches involving Ceara, Fortaleza and Ferroviário Esporte Clube: the state-owned Plácido Castelo, also known as the Castelao, and the city-owned Presidente Vargas. The Castelao has been revamped and expanded to host over 58,000 fans at Brazil 2014.
Stadium name: Estádio Castelao
Better known as: Estadio Governador Placido Castelo
The people of Fortaleza have a passion for the game as well as the city’s two biggest clubs, Ceara and Fortaleza. This passion will surely only grow in the future with the remodelling of the city’s main football stadium, the Castelao.
Built in 1973 and officially known as the Estadio Governador Placido Castelo, the Castelao is home to both teams and has been entirely renovated to host matches at the FIFA Confederations Cup Brazil 2013 and the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil.
As well as having its capacity increased to 64, 846, the revamped stadium will boast an underground car park with 1,900 spaces, executive boxes, a VIP area, media centre, mixed zone and fully refurbished dressing rooms. In addition, a new roof now covers all its tiers, including the pitch side ring of seating.
Access to the Castelao has also been upgraded, with the creation of four exclusive bus lanes, an LRV (light rail vehicle) line and two metro stations, making it far easier for fans to reach the stadium and the complex it will form part of, which will house restaurants, cinemas, a hotel and an Olympic centre.
The Castelao is the venue for Brazil’s second group match at the 2014 World Cup. The support the home favourites receive is sure to be every bit as impressive as it was when they ran out there for a March 2002 friendly against Yugoslavia, the game that marked Ronaldo’s long-awaited return to action in the build-up to Brazil’s triumph at the 2002 FIFA World Cup Korea/Japan.