Tuesday marks a symbolic day in the run up to the World Cup. There will be 100 days left until the initial kick off to the biggest sporting event in the world with Brazil taking on Croatia. The preparations in Brazil have received much scrutiny for good reasons while the 32 nations involved prepare for their last official FIFA friendly match. The heavy excitement that is building as the days wind down should still be tempered as Brazil tries to prepare for droves of tourists.
Wednesday is a busy day of international friendlies as teams use the final official FIFA date to prepare and make more decisions on their respective rosters. Brazil is still the favorite to take home the trophy in their homeland bringing in a roster that has been largely unchanged over the past year. The home failure against Uruguay back in 1950 is still called a nightmare, so winning is the only option. Julio Cesar‘s form and Fred‘s health are the biggest question marks for Brazil.
Diego Costa is training with Spain for the first time after spurning Brazil. Germany still has some questions on form and fitness as well. The rosters for Spain and Germany could be made up of players that find their way to the Champions League final in Lisbon and potentially throw off the preparation schedule.
Several teams, including Spain will be in the United States for the final preparation before arriving in Brazil. Nigeria, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Ivory Coast, Honduras and Greece are the other World Cup teams that will play at various venues in the United States between May 29 and June 7.
ESPN revealed that they will broadcast every USMNT World Cup group stage match on their family of networks and present seven international matches on Wednesday. Of the 64 matches that make up the World Cup, 43 will be shown on ESPN with the others on their family of networks. The network is also counting down the 100 days with three days of special programming that begins with the hour long ESPN FC broadcast tomorrow. They will take a look back at the 1994 World Cup, the elements of Brazil and various other subjects on television and their website.
Preparations in Brazil
Brazil has had seven years to prepare for the first match on June 12, but there are still four stadiums under construction thanks in part to taking two years after being awarded the World Cup to finalize the sites. Many urban projects that were expected haven’t started yet and some of the airports will still look like a construction zone when spectators arrive. There are even concerns that some areas expected to host official fan zones will not be ready.
The Itaquerao and Curitiba stadiums have been given an extension by FIFA and are expected to be done by the middle of May. Wetlands areas are having trouble getting cement to dry and temporary structures like press boxes have to be built while construction continues on stadiums. According to Reuters, five cities abandoned plans to add bus lanes, underground lines or trams and continue to struggle prepping the information technology infrastructure.
Of course, there are the protests still taking place across Brazil as many question the amount of funds being spent on large sporting events, especially tax revenue, rather than overhauling public services. Last week the Brazilian leadership said they would deploy 150,000 police and soldiers and also bring in 20,000 private security officers across the 12 World Cup host venues to combat any protests.
Obviously, there is reason to temper the excitement sitting 100 days out from the start of the World Cup. FIFA continues to show support of the security tactics and has given more and more time to the construction of the infrastructure despite several fatalities. The preparation will come fast and furious now. Let us all hope that everything from here on out is safe and about the beautiful game rather than more protests and danger.