Brazil: Delaying the inevitable

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Whilst the World Cup pools draw on Friday 2 December has focused the football world's attention squarely on South Africa 2010, the groundwork and planning for Brazil 2014 continues to gather much needed momentum, writes Simon Tarmo.

Following an ominous but also welcome warning (if not an admission) from the country's top sport authority, sport minister Orlando Silva Junior, that Brazil's infamous bureaucracy could make it very difficult to hit all Cup 2014 targets on time, it is worth mentioning a few of the issues surrounding foreign groups keen to secure a piece of the R$125bn+ spending pie over the next seven or so years. First, although things are still going slowly, it appears that a number of countries are gradually moving their chess pieces into place in preparation for a rush of activity in the (hopefully) not too distant future. As pretty much everyone waits for the relevant city, state and federal government bodies to get their act into gear and start mapping out projects clearly and definitively, the amount of groups planning to throw their hats in the ring gradually swells. Germany has recently signed a cooperation agreement with Brazil aimed at sharing lessons from the 2006 Cup, whilst Cup and Olympics focused groups from the UK, US, Australia, and Portugal, among others, have been touring the country in recent months trying to forge relationships with 2014 and 2016 decision makers. At the same time, Brazilian delegations representing all manner of major event related sectors have been heading off to all parts of the globe in search of ideas, inspiration and potential partners; most recently, representatives from eight of the 12 host cities plus Brazilian Football Federation chief Ricardo Teixeira were in South Africa at the annual Soccerex festival and conference, promoting their respective merits to the event's strong line–up of global football and sport business industry players. The current wave of activity follows months of seminars, round tables and architectural project presentations all around the country: exciting and certainly feel good but yet to be followed up by much in the way any tangible, concrete work. The latter, in many cases, has been on the verge of beginning, but, as if often the case in Brazil, last minute problems or changes have pushed back starting dates. To use a symbolic example, the release date of official development plans for the upgrade to Rio's Maracana stadium, the host of the 2014 Cup final and centrepiece of Rio 2016, has already been pushed back twice, from September to October and then to December (they are still not yet available). Although this situation of delays and bureaucratic bungling is certainly worrying, there are definitely positive aspects for foreign groups hoping to enter the Brazilian market through Cup and Olympic driven projects. Not only does the situation give outsiders more time to get themselves ready for doing business in Brazil, a difficult task in itself, but the increasingly compressed time–line will also force both decision makers and Brazilian businesses into finding solutions and 'delivering the goods' at much shorter notice. Given Brazil's relative inexperience at hosting major events, combined with the massive scale of social and urban improvements being planned, all with very real and immovable finish lines, it is not difficult to see that foreign groups offering quicker, more efficient outcomes founded on successful experiences with similar projects around the world will have better chances of winning work. Add to this Brazil's somewhat cloudy history of absolute and utter transparency in the public realm, it is pretty clear that at least some of the thousands of contracts to be on offer all around the country will be decided and pushed through quickly and without the diligence that might otherwise be expected. For non–Brazilian parties then, the idea will be to ensure that they are not only ready to open for business in Brazil at short notice, but that, maybe more importantly, they know all the key groups and players in their respective decision making processes, just in case all the relevant information doesn't end up coming out through the regular, official channels. About Simon TarmoA journalist from Sydney, Australia, and co–founder of industry journal Australian Sponsorship News, Simon Tarmo now lives in Belo Horizonte, Brazil. Having worked on a range of writing, research and trade projects across a number of industries including sport, entertainment and wine, he is currently focusing on business opportunities involving the 2014 World Cup and Rio 2016 in Brazil. With fluent Portuguese language skills, he has an extensive network of contacts throughout Brazil and can advise and assist foreign groups doing business in the country. For more details http://simontarmo. blogspot. com/ ~ Simon Tarmo+55 31 9196 0069simon@pando. com. auhttp://simontarmo. blogspot. com/

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