Sunday, May 31, 2009

2014 World Cup Host Cities Announced

FIFA announced the 12 Brazilian cities that will be hosting the 2012 World Cup. In no big surprise, the final will be in Maracana stadium, which hosted the 2006 Pan-American games and can seat up to 87,000 people, in Rio de Janeiro. Other non-surprise hosts are Sao Paulo, as well as Belo Horizonte (Minas Gerais), Porto Alegre (Rio Grande do Sul), Curitiba (Parana), Salvador (Bahia), Recife (Pernambuco), Natal (Rio Grande do Norte), Brasilia, and Fortaleza (Ceara). Several other "small" cities from Brazil's underrepresented regions were also in the mix, and the final two sites will be Manaus (whose new stadium design is the best), in Amazonas, and Cuiaba, in Mato Grosso. The South/Southeast and the Northeast are heavily represented, which was to be expected, and those regions offer a great variety in presenting Brazilian culture, history, and geography. But the selection of Manaus and Cuiaba means games will also be in Brazil's interior and in the Amazon, bringing much-needed and well-deserved income into those states and cities, as well, and letting tourists see much more of Brazil than they usually do when they pass through (usually hitting only Rio and/or the Northeastern beaches). The stadium rennovations have already begun and are in variou sphases of completion (Rio is virtually set, and Brasilia was beginning when I was there in July 2007).

It's a shame other little-visited cities like Rio Branco, Campo Grande, Goiania, and Florianopolis were left out (as were Belem), as each has plenty for tourists to see beyond Rio and the Northeast, and those cities could have used the income as well. Still, it's overall a justifiable list, and the inclusion particularly of Manaus and Cuiaba is excellent for Brazil and for those who will travel to the 2014 World Cup.

(And for geography buffs, here's a good map).