In The Shadow of World Cup, Protesters Press Demands

protests-world-cup-smaller-persistentIt’s been nearly a week since the World Cup kicked off in Brazil.

But the opening match in San Paulo on June 12 did not curtail the protests that started before the tournament.

While they are smaller than before – usually a few hundred people – the protesters continue to say ‘no’ to FIFA and the World Cup, demanding the government make more investments in health or education.

Recife, one of the 12 World Cup venues, is relatively calm and its population is watching the events in Rio de Janeiro and San Paulo from a distance. This is where VOA’s Nico Pinault went to meet them.


Chump Change for Big Football

Brazil Breaks the Bank with Stadiums

(this post courtesy VOA French-to-Africa correspondent Nicolas Pinault, who is in Brazil for the tournament. check out the French World Cup blog at

With the start of the World Cup just hours away, VOA looks at the facts and figures behind some of the coolest – and costliest – World Cup stadiums:


Brazil WCup Stadium

Arena Corinthians/Arena de Sao Paulo
Capacity: 69,160
Cost: between 920 and 950 million reals (between $410 and $425 million), an increase of 14-18% compared to the initial budget.

The construction of this stadium was supposed to be a success to mark the launch of the tournament. But this stadium has been anything but successful: not only is the roof not completed, but three workers have died since the beginning of the construction.


Brazil WCup Stadium Inauguration

Arena da Amazonia
Capacity: 44,000
Cost: 670 million reals ($299 million)

At the end of May, the city of Manaus declared a state of emergency after heavy rainfall, impacting the Arena Amazonia. Four tournament matches are scheduled to take place there, including England vs. Italy and Cameroon vs. Croatia.


Brazil Soccer World Cup Preview

Arena das Dunas
Capacity: 42,000
Cost: 400 million reals ($178.5 million)

Noted stadium architect Christopher Lee, who designed the Arena Das Dunas, called it “the most perfect stadium in South America.” But FIFA General Secretary Jerome Valcke seemed to disagree, writing on Twitter in late May: “We have a race against the clock, there is still much to do for the fans and the media,” referring to a lack of seats in the unfinished arena.


Brazil Soccer World Cup Preview

Capacity: 78,838
Cost: 1.2 billion reals ($535 million)

For many players, it is a dream come true to play in this legendary stadium, which hosted World Cup matches in 1950. But for Brazil, it’s a nightmare – the Brazilian national team lost to neighbor Uruguay by 2-1 in the 1950 World Cup final, a match considered one of the biggest upsets in football history.


Brazil Soccer World Cup Preview

Mane Garrincha Stadium Nacional
Capacity: 72,000 spectators
Cost: 1.403 billion reals ($624.6 million)

The most expensive of the twelve stadiums, the National Stadium was fully renovated, and construction was complete in 2012. But problems persisted: the roof had to be repaired due to significant water leaks. By the time final costs were calculated, the stadium was the second-most expensive in the world, behind England’s famed Wembley Stadium.

Other World Cup Stadiums

Stadium (Location) Capacity Cost
Arena da Baixada (Curitiba) 43,000 320 million reals ($142 million)
Arena Pantanal (Cuiaba) 44,000 570 million reals ($254.4 million)
Stade Beira (Porto Alegre) 49,989 330 million reals ($147.2 million)
Stade Mineirao (Belo Horizonte) 62,160 695 million reals ($310 million)
Stade Castelao (Fortaleza) 63,903 518 million reals ($231 million)
Arena Pernambuco (Recife) 46,000 532.6 million reals ($237.6 million)
Arena Fonte Nova (Salvador) 55,000 689.4 million reals ($307.4 million)

Source: AFP | Photos: AP

Algeria: Full of Confidence

With a 4-0 record in their last four matches, giving up only two goals, the Fennecs of Algeria are feeling good as they prepare to leave for Brazil.

This despite the fact that their last “friendly” match against Romania in Geneva was anything but friendly.  Algerian fans threw flares, bottles, and even themselves onto the pitch at various stages of the match.  It was a rowdy end to what had been several quiet weeks for the team.

The Fennecs, under coach Vahid Halilodzic, are now back in Algiers before they prepare to depart for South America.  Algeria is perhaps the least-talked about of the African teams, so if they do well, it would make for an exciting and surprising development.  But they face tough opponents, starting with favorite Belgium on June 17.

(this post comes courtesy of VOA’s French language World Cup blog. Check it out and follow at

Algeria's Yacine Brahimi controls the ball during their international friendly soccer match against Romania in Geneva June 4, 2014.

(photo: Pierre Albouy/Reuters)