Chaos at Confederations Cup at Arena Pernambuco

I am in shock and cannot believe what I witnessed yesterday in Recife at Arena Pernambuco during the first game of Confederations Cup between Spain and Uruguay. A beautiful building, The Arena,  or White Elephant – its nickname was ready and waiting for fans to arrive with its shining green lawn and red chairs. The crowd was excited even though Uruguay was not the same squad that played the last World Cup in South Africa. They were playing against the world champions but still the match was a little disappointing. Outside the arena the story was very different.  It was a rainy afternoon with gray skies symbolizing an opening marked by disaster and shame caused by the lack of responsibility by the state and federal governments, FIFA and unfortunately by the Brazilian fans.
Arena Pernambuco,  Recife - PE
On Saturday during the official opening of the Confederations Cup in Brasilia where the Brazilian team defeated Japan 3—0, the festivities were marked by booing not only for the FIFA’s president but also for Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff . Outside Mane Garrincha Arena, the atmosphere was very tense. A big demonstration against the government and FIFA protesting the billions that has been spent in preparing for the World Cup. While the country is sinking due to a lack of infrastructure--a woeful transportation system, substandard education and healthcare, among others, the government is spending a fortune building stadiums worth billions of dollars. The rich are getting richer, political corruption is rampant with the poor getting poorer. A country with huge social and economic inequalities will host the 2014 World Cup and the Olympics in 2016? In Brazil problems do not get resolved but it is a common practice of "a simple makeup". This is the way the country is getting ready to host those important events but with a huge difference; it is not working this time. Are the Brazilian authorities blind?!!

Brazilian fan at Arena Pernambuco
World Cups and Olympics are international events of such magnitude that they require not only infrastructure, education, respect to others, but a lot patience in welcoming guests from around the world. Brazilians should be very happy and proud of their country’s rising profile, but they should keep in mind that everyday routines will change. The country does not have the infrastructure as we already know. Therefore, you have to prepare yourself for crowded buses and metros and all the resulting disfunction that comes with it. Protestors turned looters have started to vandalize everything is not the answer. Respect above all is the most necessary virtues, but unfortunately this word did not make it into the Brazilian dictionary.

Uruguayan fans walking to Arena Pernambuco for their match against Spain
What I witnessed yesterday was very sad. I was in shock. While I am from Pernambucana radicalized abroad for over 20 years. I was very happy to know that Brazil and Recife will host such events. To be quite honest I came home again because I wanted to be here to celebrate with my compatriots these special moments.  After yesterday I came to a conclusion that Brazil doesn’t have the necessary infrastructure and Brazilians sociologically are not prepared to host such large events. I believe FIFA’s arrogance along with government corruption and incompetence are treating Brazilians with lack of respect.

Capitalist FIFA seeks only profits during the World Cup. Money is their ultimate goal. Organizers do not care for the fans, but instead cater only to the well being of the sponsors, and they impose ridiculous rules. For example, fans yesterday were not allowed to bring umbrellas inside the arenas even though it was raining. June is winter in Brazil and during winter months certain parts of the country rain a lot. It turns out that the bosses will arrive by car and they will never get wet. The crowd that comes from metro and buses are the ones that have to deal with the rain. Waterproof garments are not allowed to be sold in the arenas. Only sponsor related products priced at criminally high rates are sold.

South Americans fans invaded Arena Pernambuco 
Regarding the arena whose is in charge of the construction--FIFA, the state government? It is unacceptable that in restrooms there are NO garbage cans. How much did the government spend in building the Arena Pernambuco? I guess the organizers ran out of money to install garbage cans inside and outside the stadium? The amount of waste during the first match of the Confederations Cup was simply unbelievable. Outside, there was growing pool of beer cans and water bottles. This is another example of the lack of respect not only for the Arena Pernambuco itself but to all of the citizens. It is your money. What kind of message are the authorities sending to Brazilians and to all foreigners present yesterday. This type of behavior is just not unacceptable.

What a calamity. The general feeling was of disappointment, revulsion, and shame. Trash everywhere, lack of trash bins, people soaked unnecessarily wet, kilometric lines to buy beer costing R$ 12.00 ($6.00 dollars).  A fan paid R$ 240.00 ($120.00 dollars) for a ticket and could not find his seat since it did not exist. FIFA is responsible for ticket sales. It really was a Sunday that Brazil should have been very proud of, but it turned into an afternoon of shame. 

Couple from Northeast Brazil 
Yesterday’s biggest shame was the lack of organization in getting to the Arena. The lack of public transportation prepared to transport more the 60,000 people was dismal. Forced to travel by metro and buses due to lack of parking - one of the exigencies by FIFA, fans spent an average of two hours to reach the final destination. Governor where are you? It seems to me you are more concerned about solving your alliances to get elected to the presidency next year than solving the many problems the state desperately has. Where is your authority and determination to provide what is necessary to host a World Cup Brazilians and the world deserve?

The lack of basic planning with the metro is disgusting. The metro is not even prepared to absorb the number of passengers during the games. Cosme e Damiao station is not even ready. Not to mention the project. It was not designed to meet a higher demand due to important games such as the Confederations Cup last Sunday. A disaster. Crowded platforms, trains unable to leave due to the number of users on the platforms, only one ramp to access platform and very crowded trains.

Uruguayans getting to the Arena Pernambuco for their match against Spain
To reach the metro station fans must walk 600 meters from the arena to the bus station. People must wait in endless lines. Some of the passengers did not want to wait in line to catch the buses, and the police could not contain the crowd. This past Sunday, the lack of respect, patience, and lack of education caused some fans to vandalize buses and break fences. Who is to blame? All the authorities, FIFA, and all the irresponsible fans are responsible for Sunday’s disaster. It has been proved once again that Brazil is still a third world country.   Quoting a tourist from Uruguay "if Uruguay squad come back to Recife during the World Cup I will not come. I'm being treated like an animal". Shame on you Brazil. I just hope that Pernambuco’s governor became aware of this comment.

This statement should also be a warning to the president of the republic. Dilma was embarassed on national television and I hope the foreign press broadcast the opening. Brazil is going through a phase of general discontentment. Demonstrations are happening every single day in major capitals and the government attitude is to sweep the dirt under the carpet. This country is having a chance to host major international events and is being tested. So far Brazil has failed miserably. It is up to the federal and state government to take responsibility in providing basic infrastructure. Nothing is perfect. We still have time to make the Confederations Cup and the World Cup an unforgettable experience. I know education, responsibility, and respect are not qualities we can be acquired overnight but at least Brazilians and the authorities should try in the name of the of our passion for football.

Spaniard fan waiting for the shuttles to go to the Arena Pernambuco
Finally, I received a message from a very angry fan which I want to share: "Neca more than angry, I was embarrassed and I still am. Embarrassed by the whole lack of structure and planning, ashamed of having exposed my family to harm needlessly, and especially ashamed to be Brazilian. We are a third world country with education and citizenship of a fifth world country. Go back to your country and be proud of it, with all it’s imperfections”.

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