Transcript of conference call - Brazil Deputy Minister of Sport Luis Fernandes

29/05/2014 - 19:04

Picture: Shaun Botterill - FIFA/Getty Images#As Brazil finalizes preparations for the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil, Deputy Minister Fernandes uses this opportunity to provide an update on the Operational Plans for the World Cup, which were finalized by the federal government and the 12 host cities this month. The Operational Plans integrate all World Cup planning initiatives by the federal, state and municipal levels of the Brazilian government, including security, urban mobility, airports, telecommunications, energy, health and sanitation, culture and the environment. Deputy Minister Fernandes will be
speaking in English throughout the call.

Dep. Min. Fernandes: I’d like to greet all members of the media and press that are with us here on this conference call. We’re just two weeks away now from the opening of the World Cup and we’re very excited and confident that the World Cup will be a success in Brazil. It has been a lot of work—hard work. It took a lot of planning.

We had basically three cycles of planning in preparing the World Cup: The first planning was of those infrastructure investments which took more time to mature—stadiums, airport modernization, port modernization, urban mobility projects. A second cycle of planning was directed towards services infrastructure in areas such as telecommunications, security, energy, health and others. A more recent cycle of planning focused on the operational plans for the event, which we just finalized. We had a number of meetings in each one of the 12 host cities, bringing together not only representatives from the federal government, from the state governments, and city governments, but also with the participation of the Local Organizing Committee, FIFA, and private partners that are involved with the operation of the World Cup in the field. So, we’re very confident that it’s been a tough job, but that we will deliver a fantastic World Cup beginning in two weeks’ time. So, I’m open to whatever questions you have that may bring more information to our world audience – so they can know what type of preparations are being made here in Brazil.

Mimi Whitefield (Miami Herald): Mr. Minister, I wonder if you could discuss the economic impact of the World Cup for Brazil? Sort of a cost-benefit analysis, if you will.

Dep. Min. Fernandes: Well, of course there are a number of independent studies that are directed towards that topic. A full assessment of the economic returns and social returns of the World Cup we will only be able to complete after the World Cup when the impact of the legacy can be measured very concretely. We do have already measurements of the benefits that were brought to Brazil from the Confederations Cup that was held here one year ago. These independent studies indicate that just in the area of tourism, the extra revenue that was generated by the Confederations Cup – which was basically a local event, almost 98 percent of the fans were Brazilian fans in the stadium, but even so, we generated almost R$ 10 billion of extra revenue for our economy. I would say that’s around US$ 4.5 billion. So, just at that event in returns from one sector, which have already materialized, that’s more than all that was invested in the country to build the stadiums for the World Cup in the 12 host cities.

A number of other studies indicate that investments that have spurred infrastructure in the context of the World Cup preparation have an important anti-cyclical impact in our economy. Some studies point towards up to 2018, a 0.4 [percent] increase in our GDP due to these infrastructure investments. But as any effective study of legacy, the concrete impact will have to be measured after the event.

James Emmett (SportsPro): Do you or the government have any regrets over the way preparations have been carried out? And if you could turn the clock back to 2007, would you do anything differently?

Dep. Min. Fernandes: Well, I would say we always have to learn with mistakes and try to do things better. That’s a lesson in general for any field of human life and so we always have to examine what was done and see how things can be improved to do better in new endeavors that we will be involved in – and that includes, of course, the Olympic Games that will be held in Rio.

I would point to two aspects which could have been improved: First of all, I think that we should have had a closer integration with the Local Organizing Committees from the very beginning of the preparations for the World Cup. We were only included in the Board of the Local Organizing Committees of representation of the federal government a little bit more than two years ago. I think that if we had been included from the very beginning, the level of integration in World Cup preparation would have been greater, and that would have been better.

A second aspect, which I think is clear, is that we should have communicated more strongly the benefits that the World Cup brings to the country. I think basically we thought that the benefits were evident and that the World Cup addresses our main sport, which is football or soccer in the US, so that support and understanding of the benefits in the event would be almost automatic. So, I think that’s something that we should have communicated strongly before and that’s something that we will have to communicate stronger for the Olympic Games.

And also make communication clearer because in a lot of infrastructure investments, which are not essential for the event, but which the Brazilian government decided to anticipate, were sometimes understood as costs of the World Cup—costs of the event in Brazil — and that’s not true. They were autonomous decisions for investment in an infrastructure the country needs that would have to have been invested anyway, but would take a longer time to materialize; but those investments in infrastructure were then interpreted as costs of the World Cup, which is not true.

So, we’ve learned from that lesson, from what happened, and for the Olympic Games, we’re separating in our communications these two aspects. The matrix of responsibility will only include for the Olympic Games those investments that are specifically directed to the event, to the global sporting events. All communication about separate investments in infrastructure that will spur national and regional development are in a different plan, which is a plan for anticipation and exploration of investments in public policy. So, that’s maybe a lesson we learned from the World Cup experience.

Tobias Kaufer (FAZ Germany): Do you agree that there are some international media campaigns against Brazil like Minister Aldo Rebelo said last week in a statement, and why or why not do you think that?

Dep. Min. Fernandes: Well, I wouldn’t say there’s any international media campaign against Brazil. I would say that, in general, there are sectors in society that have prejudice with respect to the capacity of developing countries in general to deliver major achievements as global sporting events, which question the capacity of developing countries to deliver this type of event. I mean, it’s not a question of a media campaign. It’s a prejudice that exists in those societies and maybe some sectors of the media simply express the prejudice that exists in that society.

But we can only respond to prejudice with achievement. That’s what we have to do.

Our more closer experience was the success of the Confederations Cup in Brazil, because of the same type of doubts or skepticism or prejudice also manifested itself with respect to the Confederations Cup, saying that Brazil wasn’t prepared to hold that event—and the event was a huge success and was the main test event for our World Cup preparations.

So, I think we will respond to whatever misconception exists with achievements, with concrete results. And since we’ve been effectively heavily involved in planning the success of the event and we know what has been built in terms of capacity, we are confident that Brazil will surprise the world with a successful event in the World Cup. So, we’re confident that whatever misconception exists will be responded by the achievements and the concrete success of the event that we are organizing.

Mike Collett (Reuters): Hi, Mr. Fernandes. It’s good to talk to you again. You said earlier that you had made mistakes in the buildup to this World Cup and one of the mistakes you made was in not conveying the message properly of what the benefits to Brazil would be. You’re reaping a really terrible price for that mistake now. We’re seeing unprecedented scenes before a World Cup of your national team bus at a center of an, albeit small, protest, but this has never been seen before at a start of the buildup. How can you ensure that none of this is going to impact and damage Brazil’s international reputation or image even further over the next month?Picture: Shaun Botterill - FIFA/Getty Images#

Dep. Min. Fernandes: With respect to our national team, I must say that all opinion polls that have been made here in Brazil show a massive support for our national team. Actually, they’re very optimistic. I was even surprised, but over 80 percent are confident Brazil will win the World Cup in Brazil. As a fan, I hope they’re right, but I know we have tough opponents that we’ll have to face in the World Cup. So, I think there’s widespread support for our national team in the country. It’s very strong support and that support will express itself through parties, through vibrant commemorations with any goals we score, and that will be the general atmosphere that we will have during the World Cup and throughout the World Cup.

Now, of course, one of our operational plans deals exactly with the question of guaranteeing the security of the event. That planning was tested in the Confederations Cup because we were all surprised by the scale of the demonstrations that were held during the Confederations Cup; not directed against the Confederations Cup, but in the context of the Confederations Cup. Despite the surprise of those demonstrations, the Cup was a success.

I must stress one point, which is very important to us, is that we do not see any problem at all in peaceful demonstrations because we are a democratic country. Our constitution guarantees the right of its citizens to freedom of expression and it’s natural that different pressure groups, trade unions, see in the World Cup an opportunity to voice their demands to a global audience. I think that’s absolutely natural and understandable.

What we cannot tolerate, because we are a democratic state based on the rule of law, are acts of violence or vandalism, and we’ll have no tolerance of those. So, we have to have a democratic policy, guaranteeing the right to peaceful demonstration to whoever has a demand to voice but, at the same time, guarantee the conditions needed for the security of the event – and those will be guaranteed. We have not yet put into place the full security operation for the World Cup. Those will enter into a full operational mode beginning next week, and we can guarantee everyone that the security of the World Cup will be guaranteed by the Brazilian state.

Ben Avison (Host City): Hi there. With reference to your suggestion that the international media is prejudiced about developing countries— most of the media coverage is focused on the organizing committee missing FIFA’s deadlines. Are you suggesting that FIFA’s criteria are prejudiced against developing countries, or should the criteria be more lenient in certain countries where there may be a tendency for things to take longer?

Dep. Min. Fernandes: No, let me correct—I might have been misunderstood. I didn’t say that the international media is prejudiced against Brazil or other developing countries. What I did say is that in sectors of the public opinion of richer countries there is prejudice directed against developing countries and their capacity to deliver events, major global sporting events such as the World Cup and the Olympic Games. So, what I responded specifically was that I did not recognize an international media campaign against Brazil. So, I guess I didn’t make that point clear. Let me restate it and make it clear now, that there is prejudice in sectors of public opinion in the more developed countries directed against developing countries.

That’s true and I’ll give you an example: We had a sad tragedy in the preparation for the World Cup in a city in Southern Brazil where there was a fire in a nightclub and in which a number of youngsters were killed. It was a tragedy. It was a national tragedy, a trauma. And sectors of the press, both international and national, took up that specific case to question Brazil’s capacity of organizing the World Cup and Olympic Games. When similar accidents occurred in the U.K., in France, in Russia, in China before hosting major global events, and the same questioning or the same skepticism was not directed against those countries; so that is a prejudiced point of view from our perspective.

Now, of course, we have to deal with all aspects of preparing the World Cup and in terms of the World Cup preparation, we are not happy with whatever delays exist. It doesn’t mean that we will not deliver at the end but, for us, in operational terms, it would have been better to have all World Cup stadiums delivered already by December 2013 so that we could, in sequence, test all aspects of operations of those stadiums throughout the first semester.

That did not happen. Specifically we had two stadiums that were delivered later and that had more acute problems of delays, those were the stadiums in São Paulo and Curitiba, so that put extra pressure on our organizational capacity because we had to make a number of tests in parallel that would have been held easier and in a more calm fashion if they could have been done in sequence. But all testing is being made to deliver the event with all the qualities that are necessary to have a top global event held in Brazil.

I must say, that was the same situation we faced before the Confederations Cup. We also had stadiums that unfortunately were delivered late, but the operation was a success. So we already showed the world that we can organize such a competition efficiently and with success, although maybe, personally, the operational cost of organizing such an event is greater due to certain delays. But our message is one of absolute confidence that we will have a spectacular World Cup here in Brazil starting two weeks on.

Chris Arnold (Los Angeles Times): Thank you, sir for joining us today. My question is, in your opinion, based on the most recent meetings and information you have at hand, of the 12 host cities, which one would you feel most confident in their preparation in terms of facilities and operations and which city would you feel least confident in terms of their preparation of operations?

Dep. Min. Fernandes: We’re confident with the 12 host cities because that’s what we have to plan. We have to plan the operation of the World Cup in the 12 host cities. What is also known is that in the preparation two stadiums were delivered late, so that put extra pressure on our operational planning, but the level of confidence is the same for the 12 host cities. All will be operational, in conditions to host such a massive event as the World Cup in each city. So, we’re confident with the 12 host cities. That would be my direct response to your question.

Roxanna Scott (USA Today): Good morning, Mr. Fernandes. As Brazil has come under scrutiny for its preparations for the World Cup, there has also been criticism of Rio’s preparation for the 2016 Olympics. In your opinion, do you think the IOC has been unduly harsh in its criticisms?

Dep. Min. Fernandes: Well, we have a close working relationship with the IOC and it’s a technical discussion that has to do with each aspect of the preparation of the Olympic Games is discussed technically. And we have, in the context of the preparation, negotiations also with representatives of each of the federations that are involved in the preparation of the Olympic Games.

I would say that the criticism that was voiced, in our assessment, was unfair and did not correspond to the technical discussions we had had a few weeks before with the technical team of the IOC. But, what was voiced seemed to express the position of some federations, which are involved in tense negotiations with us in terms of what is reasonable in each sporting event in the context of the Olympic Games – what is the concrete requirements for each sporting venue – so I would place those statements in that context. But we understand, since we follow that planning very closely, that the preparations are well planned. They’re on time.

The main concern that was voiced was voiced with respect to those sporting venues that are located in Deodoro, which is the second Olympic region in Rio de Janeiro. But, those projects are all very simple projects because they built on infrastructure that was set up for the Pan American games in 2007 and all bids for venue constructions were already launched, so we think the situation is under control and that we will deliver a fantastic Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.

By the way, I am from Rio de Janeiro personally, and from what I see in the planning, Rio de Janeiro is going to be a fantastically different city after the Olympic Games. It’s already a marvelous city; as you know, that’s what it’s called, “The Marvelous City”. But, the infrastructure that is being set up in terms of urban mobility, in terms of telecommunications, we will have an absolutely renewed and modern city in Rio after the 2016 Olympic Games.
 
Robin Scott-Elliot (The Independent): Mr. Fernandes, hi. Do you have any concerns over the readiness of the São Paulo stadium, given that it still has to host one more test event this weekend?

Dep. Min. Fernandes: Yes, we’ll have a second test event this Sunday, which will test the areas of the stadium that have not been tested yet and specifically were not tested in the previous test event. That relates to a number of operational areas, but more specifically to the additional seats that were set up because there’s a difference in the number of seats in the São Paulo stadium, or the Corinthians Stadium, which is the official name of the stadium, the Corinthians Arena. Between the legacy mode and the World Cup mode, there are 20,000 extra seats that were set up for the World Cup, which will then be dismantled for the arena to operate in legacy mode. And those seats have to be tested, and that’s one of the main tests that will be conducted in the test event this Sunday.

So, I would say the stadium is basically prepared now. What had to be readied were those extra seats that were already installed and the various operational aspects of it, including temporary structures that are being set up for security bag systems. All those operational aspects will be tested in this event. The test events are always very important because we can identify mistakes, errors, aspects that have to be improved and in São Paulo they’re especially important because São Paulo was not a host city during the Confederations Cup. The six cities that were host cities in the Confederations Cup already tested their stadium readiness in a full manner. São Paulo will host the opening match and we felt the need to have a second test event to test the full operational capacity of the stadium. That will be conducted this Sunday, and then whatever improvements still have to be made will be made up to the opening match.

Diana Brajterman (Deutsche Presse Agency): Hi, Mr. Fernandes. The Minister of Communications, Paulo Bernardo, speaking in the Senate yesterday mentioned that the telecommunications problems especially in São Paulo - 4G wouldn't be available. Internet has a possibility of failure. What does it mean facing the first game on June 12? There will be a lot of media present – will they be able to send their stories? Is there a risk of telecommunications collapse during the opening game?

Dep. Min. Fernandes: No, there’s no risk of telecommunications collapse for the opening game or for any game in the World Cup. I know we are here – this conference is with the media, but one of the main concerns in our planning for the World Cup was to guarantee full and quality capacity infrastructure for media to operate during the World Cup and all media positions are cabled. They are linked to our backbone of our national broadband service and it has been fully tested, it will be fully operational. And you’ll have, as you already had during the Confederations Cup, the media was actually very happy with the quality of the services it received to report on the Confederations Cup — and the same quality of services, even better quality of services for the media will be guaranteed during the World Cup.

In telecommunications infrastructure, that’s an area where there’s a very important legacy that the World Cup will leave for Brazil in a number of areas. The Amazon region in Brazil was never fully connected with broadband connectivity to the rest of Brazil due to lack of fiber optic cable connecting the Amazon region to our national broadband system. And one of the investments that was made in the context of World Cup preparation was exactly the connection of the Amazon region to the rest of the country via fiber optic cables that follow the energy transmission lines to that area.

I’m a professor at university and have been occupying government positions also in science and technology. One of our main challenges when I was the Deputy Minister for Science and Technology was to connect the universities and research institutes of the Amazon region with the institutes and universities of the rest of Brazil to permit it with fast Internet access and transmission of data, infrastructure capacity for cooperative research between scientists and people involved with technological development. And, as a result of World Cup investments in telecommunications, that is now the case. The national research network is completely connected to the Amazon region and that’s a major legacy of the World Cup.

Another major legacy was the anticipation of 4G technology in the 12 host cities. That has been guaranteed— that is followed closely by the Ministry of Technology and by our regulatory bodies, and that has been introduced. And also, the introduction of the required Internet access within the stadiums.

Now, despite those requirements, six stadiums have also introduced in the stadiums additional infrastructure in terms of WiFi access which broadens the signs in the stadiums. That was not a requirement established in the building of the stadiums, but that was introduced as an extra infrastructure in six of the World Cup stadiums.

So, I don’t know exactly what is the context of the declaration of the Ministry of Communications, but maybe he’s referring to that extra infrastructure that not all 12 stadiums will have; six will have, but that is infrastructure beyond the requirements that were set for telecommunications. But, I can guarantee to all members of the media that are with us here today, that you will have full connectivity and cable positions within the stadium and also in the media centers, which will operate during the World Cup.

Jeffrey Lewis (Wall Street Journal): Good afternoon, Mr. Fernandes. I want to ask you about the series of strikes we’re seeing around Brazil in the host cities, the transport strike, the police strike. How is this affecting your operational plan and how does your operational plan deal with the possibility of strike?

Dep. Min. Fernandes: Yes, well first I return to a point that I made before. We’re a democratic country which respects the right of our citizens to freedom of expression, and which also guarantees in its Constitution the right to strike. It’s a worker’s right that is guaranteed by our constitution. Now, what we have to guarantee is that first, all legislation which pertains to organizing strikes is followed —and that’s not only in the World Cup, that’s in any situation – that whatever strike is organized it has to follow what is established in terms of our national democratic legislation in terms of organizing strikes.

Now, in terms of the operational plans, of course what we have to do is adapt our planning so that all flux of transportation or flux of fans to and from the games, to and from their homes, to and from the stadiums – that flux is guaranteed, and that is basically what our planning does. We have to operate jointly with urban mobility authorities, with the transport authorities at the city level, in joint cooperation with the security authorities so that respecting the right to demonstration, that these demonstrations are peaceful and they do not affect the right to come and go, which is another democratic right guaranteed to all citizens in Brazil by our constitution. So, those are exactly the things that we bring into discussion in our operational planning.

Now, I must say that it is kind of natural that trade unions and other pressure groups or other interest groups see in the World Cup an opportunity to make their cause or make their demands have global impact. That happened in practically every single major sporting event in the world. Let’s just go back to the situation in South Africa. There were a number of strikes also before the World Cup in South Africa; in other countries also.

I would say it’s almost natural that pressure groups understand that this is also an opportunity to make their demands be voiced globally, so we have to deal with that. Naturally, as a democratic country, we are recognizing the right to freedom of expression, the right to organize strikes for those that are organized legally; but that those cannot interfere with the right to come and go for the rest of the population, including those fans that will be attending the games during the World Cup.

Christopher Wright (AFP): Good afternoon, Mr. Fernandes. Yes, the last question actually alluded to this to a degree, but I wonder if you could just expand a little bit. Do you have emergency contingency plans to counter the likelihood of large scale transport strikes, what do those plans entail, and also what would those contingency plans entail if there were, for example, air strikes? I imagine that if there were air strikes as well, that would cause serious problems for the World Cup.

Dep. Min. Fernandes: We don’t have any indication of massive strikes in public transport or air transport. I know in various countries throughout the world there is a tradition of their strikes paralyzing airport systems, but we have no indication of anything of the sort up to now here in Brazil.

We do have contingency plans to deal with emergency. We have to. That’s part of the planning and you must understand that any contingency plan, as a contingency plan, is not made public before it is necessary. It will be made public if necessary, but we’re very confident it will not be necessary. But we have contingency plans for practically every single operational situation that we will face in the World Cup, including the one of transport and security.

Tariq Panja (Bloomberg): Good morning. Just a question about mega events in general: Brazil and to a degree, Sochi just before, US$53 billion in Sochi. You alluded to the costs related to this World Cup not being as high as people think, but huge amounts of money are going into these sporting events and people are looking at them closely. What has the world learned from spending so much money on these events? Do you think in the future FIFA, the IOC, other event organizers perhaps need to demand less of countries? Looking around Brazil, a country that seems to love football, talk to people and they’re talking about, “Oh, they’ve stolen so much money; they’ve done this.” There’s a real air of disappointment here with Brazilians. What can be done in the future? This has happened now, I guess.Picture: Shaun Botterill - FIFA/Getty Images#

Dep. Min. Fernandes: I don’t know if I would agree with you that the general mood is one of disappointment in Brazil. I think the general mood is one of optimism with respect to our national team, of increasing interest in the competition, and I think that whatever this conception exists and some does exist in Brazilian public opinion with respect to the return of and the benefits that the World Cup will bring to Brazil, they will become evident as people start using the  infrastructure that has been anticipated in the context of the World Cup preparation.

What does exist—is many people use infrastructure that is taken as natural and they don’t even know that that infrastructure they’re using was made possible in the context of public investments which were accelerated in the context of World Cup preparation. Now, what I would say is that, specifically directed now to the World Cup, that if you examine the cost of our stadiums in Brazil, the average cost of the stadiums that were built here or renovated for the World Cup, they’re basically on the same median price level or investment level as those of previous editions of the World Cup. So it’s not a World Cup that is more expensive.

You mentioned Sochi. I’m always kind of careful in mentioning the cost of the Sochi Olympics when I read news in the press because I don’t know exactly to what investments those US$53 billion refer. I know they made major investments in transforming Sochi a global city, investments in infrastructure, investments in transport, investments in airport modernization, which are not effectively Olympic or Winter Olympic game investments. So, I don’t know. I can’t assess what they’ve invested in. I can assess what Brazil has invested in.

So, if you examine what we’ve been investing in health and education just over the past four years, total investments in stadiums in Brazil is less than 1 percent of all that was invested in health and education by the federal government alone in the past four years. I’m not even mentioning investments in health and education on the part of city governments and on the part of state governments. So, obviously if you look at things closely and in an objective fashion looking at the numbers, there is absolutely no contradiction between a developing country hosting a major global event such as the World Cup or the Olympic Games and increasing investment in health and education and in a number of other areas. 

I just mentioned the latest data by an independent research organization on economic returns of the Confederations Cup. Just the economic returns in tourism of the Confederations Cup were greater than total investments that we made in the 12 host city stadiums for the World Cup, not to mention the generation of wealth, the generation of jobs, direct jobs linked to stadium construction, and indirect jobs linked to the economic chains that are strengthened in the context of investments made in infrastructure in the context of World Cup preparation, and also in the World Cup event itself.

So, if you approach the World Cup preparation from a cost-benefit analysis, the benefits for national development are hugely greater than whatever investments the organization’s event entails. But, I go back to the point which I think is very important, specifically related to the World Cup. There were no FIFA specifications or requirements related to urban mobility projects, related to airport modernization, related to port modernization, related to telecommunications infrastructure, related to security infrastructure. All of those were autonomous decisions of investment made by the Brazilian State, recognizing needs in infrastructure which would have taken a longer time to receive concentrated investment and we concentrated those investments in the context of the World Cup preparations.

So, the benefits for Brazil are huge from a development perspective, and I think for any developing country then hosting this type of event is an opportunity to intensify its historical challenge to develop, and development is a historical challenge. It won’t be solved by one World Cup or one Olympic Games. It’s a continued effort of various generations, but what we have done in the context of the World Cup preparation was to step up public investments for needed infrastructure in the country. So, in that sense, I think the benefits are huge for Brazil and for any developing country in hosting these events.

Which doesn’t mean, by the way, that we don’t negotiate healthily with the international organizations that are responsible for those events. We go into each requirement and we dispute any requirement or specification which we understand is unreasonable, or contrary to public interest, or that may block national development. So, we have tough negotiations with FIFA, we have tough negotiations with the Olympic Organizing Committee but, at the end of the day, both events are huge opportunities for Brazil to accelerate its national development.

Andrew Downie (Reuters): Good morning. You said that the benefits for Brazil are very great, but they could be much greater if Brazil had managed to do most of the infrastructure projects or a lot of the infrastructure projects, particularly in public transportation, that were late, or dropped, or scaled back. You know, it’s not been great for you in any way and this has a disconnect between what the politicians are saying and people in cities like Manaus, Cuiaba, Salvador are saying because they didn’t get a lot of what was promised to them.

Dep. Min. Fernandes: Well, I didn’t listen completely to your question because the line kind of fell a little bit in the middle, but I think I understood the general gist of your question. First of all, let me give you a concrete example. You mentioned three cities. Of those three, pick one: Cuiaba.

What did the government of Cuiaba, with support from the federal government, and the participation also of the city government of Cuiaba do in the context of the World Cup preparation? It launched a huge number of development projects. Most of them focused on urban mobility. There are 56 urban mobility projects being built at this moment in the city of Cuiaba. Most of them were not planned to be ready for the World Cup, but they were planned in the context of the opportunity that the World Cup presented to Cuiaba because Cuiaba was selected as a host city, and these projects will leave a very massive legacy in terms of urban mobility for the city of Cuiaba.

Now, most of these projects, they are not projects that were ever considered essential for the operation of the World Cup. They are very important infrastructure projects for the citizens of Cuiaba and for the tourists that will visit Cuiaba from now on. Let me give you a very concrete example. One of the urban mobility infrastructure projects that was under the responsibility of the state government is a light rail transport system, which initially the state government thought it could finalize by the time of the World Cup. It ends up it will not be ready at the time of the World Cup, but it will be delivered now in the second semester of 2014.

In terms of legacy, this is lasting legacy for the citizens of Cuiaba, which would not be ready in the second semester of 2014 had not Cuiaba been selected as a host city for the World Cup. So we have to think legacy, both in urban mobility, both in airports, both in telecommunications, both in port modernization, in security, energy, in all of those areas we have to think beyond the World Cup because in no moment were these World Cup requirements. They were decisions taken by the Brazilian State at its three levels, the federal government, the state government, and the city government to use the opportunity of the World Cup to step up massive investments in infrastructure.

A very significant part of those investments will be delivered already and have been delivered for the World Cup. We have already new airport terminals inaugurated here in Brasilia, very modern and operational. We have a whole new airport which will enter into operation next week in neighboring Natal, at the outskirts of Natal. We have the inauguration of the new terminal facilities in Guarulhos in São Paulo; but we have a modernization program in the airports which didn’t have the World Cup as its endpoint. It had the World Cup as its starting point and that we will continue even beyond the Olympic Games.

The investment plan goes on to actually 2018 in airport modernization, so it’s a massive legacy that will benefit the citizens of Brazil and maybe they will feel those benefits closer once they start using this infrastructure. But many times maybe they will not even associate that infrastructure to investments that were made in the context of World Cup preparation.

Let me go back to an example that I mentioned before: The broadband infrastructure that connected the Amazon region, which will give faster Internet access and integration of the Amazon region into Brazil. Maybe we’ll have people calling for demonstrations against the World Cup using a technology that, although they do not know it, was set up in the context of the World Cup preparations. So, these are the paradoxes of our development efforts in Brazil.

We’re a developing country. We have a long road ahead. And what we did in the World Cup and are doing in the Olympic Games is anticipating public investment in structuring projects that will leave lasting legacies for the welfare of our people. That’s our basic outlook, both for the World Cup and the Olympic Games.

Stephen Wade (Associated Press): Hi. Mr. Fernandes. Listen, I don’t have a question. I’m just going to offer you a bet. I was in Cuiaba several months ago. I’ll be happy to meet you out there on December 31 and we’ll see if that light rail line is completed. I think most people in Cuiaba think it won’t be completed by this year, next year, or maybe any year. So, why don’t we make a date to be in Cuiaba on December 31 and let’s see that light rail line running? That’s my offer to you.

Dep. Min. Fernandes: Okay, I suppose you also invite the Governor of Mato Grosso, who’s directly responsible for that project. But, I mention that, once again, we have massive investments in infrastructure in different areas throughout the country, many in the matrix of responsibility for the World Cup. A lot more, not in the matrix of responsibility for the World Cup, but that are made feasible by the opportunity of the World Cup. I would mention the investments that were made in hotel constructions. We have more than 400 hotels constructed throughout Brazil.

Those are public investments made by our National Development Bank, which are not in the matrix of responsibility, but that were potentialized by the opportunities of increasing tourism in the context of major event preparations. But, I’m all open to visit whatever infrastructure project, and I’d invite you also to the inaugurations of those projects.

I would like to invite you specifically to the inauguration of the Bus Rapid Transit system in Rio de Janeiro, which is scheduled for next Monday—you don’t have to wait until the end of the year, which will connect for the first time, the Rio de Janeiro International Airport with a mass public transport system connecting via bus rapid transit to the subway system. And that’s something you don’t have to wait six months or seven months to see in practice. You can see it next week in Rio de Janeiro. So, we’re delivering a huge number of infrastructure projects and the benefits will be made evident to the people of Brazil once they use these massive infrastructure projects.

Charlie Sale (Daily Mail): Good afternoon, Mr. Fernandes. You said at the start of this chat that one of the problems had been the fact that the federal government hadn’t worked with the Local Organizing Committee until earlier part from the last two years. Why was that?

Dep. Min. Fernandes: Well, let me try to make my own declaration more precise. Of course, the government always had contacts and worked together with the Local Organizing Committee and FIFA, but within the government structure of the preparation of the World Cup there’s a Local Organizing Committee which has a Board associated to it. There was no representative from the federal government in the Board of the Local Organizing Committee and I think that was a mistake because you have to coordinate planning of all public bodies at the three levels of government – the national, state, and city levels – with the preparation of the event because when the event is operated, it’s one operation. You don’t have separate operations on the part of the Local Organizing Committees, of the federal government, of the state government, or the city government; it’s one operation that has to work harmoniously.

So, I think it was a mistake not having brought in the government to the Board of the Local Organizing Committee from the very start and we could have advanced more the integrated planning of the events if that had been done before. After we were included into the Board, the level of integration in planning and identifying challenges and finding solutions for those challenges jointly, it improved immensely. So, that was the concrete content of the observation I made before. It would have been better to have government represented in the Board of the Local Organizing Committee of the World Cup from the very start.

James Emmett (SportsPro): Hello again, Mr. Fernandes. With elections coming up in October and with Brazil obviously having taken a hammering in the international media over the last few months, what’s the atmosphere like inside the federal government at the moment? Are you sensing any embarrassment or panic?

Dep. Min. Fernandes: No embarrassment and no panic. We’re absolutely confident, excited, and proud that we will deliver a fantastic World Cup in Brazil. That’s the general atmosphere in government. We’re absolutely confident, and we’d like to separate that from the election. Hosting a World Cup is not a question of partisan politics in Brazil, and it shouldn’t be. We’re implementing a project which is a national project in the interest of the Brazilian people as a whole. It’s a state project which involves all sectors of the Brazilian political spectrum.

We have not only the federal government’s candidates involved and working for the success of the World Cup, but we have the main opposition candidates which are also important actors in preparation of the World Cup; let me mention Aecio Neves, which he was the Governor of Minas Gerais and he was directly responsible for building the stadium. In Minas Gerais we have Eduardo Campos who is an opposition candidate today in the national election and he was, as Governor of Pernambuco, directly responsible for building the stadium in Pernambuco. So this is not a question of partisan politics. This is a national project which interests all Brazilians and which involves the entire political spectrum in trying to build a success.

And I think Brazil has matured democratically, not to try to condition electoral results to the results of a sporting event. By the way, if you see we’ve had since 1994, full coincidence of national elections in Brazil and World Cup competitions and there’s no direct correlation of the achievements of our national team in the field and the results of the national election.

By the way, it generally goes the other way around. When our national team won, the candidate supported by the acting president was not elected and when our national team lost, the standing president was re-elected, so I don’t see any connection between the results of the World Cup and the national election that will be held in October. I think we’ve matured enough to see and feel in Brazil that elections have to deal with options for our country’s development and different options are proposed to our national population, and the national population votes directly to choose who has the better program for the development of Brazil. So it’s a separate issue and I think we’ve matured a lot in consolidating democracy in Brazil.

By the way, one of our technological innovations, we have a fully electronic vote in Brazil in our national elections. This is a technological achievement very few countries in the world have. We have over 100 million citizens voting electronically in a system which isn’t open to electoral fraud, and we have the results of a national election involving more than 100 million citizens in less than 24 hours. So that’s a major democratic achievement. It’s part of our democratic maturing in Brazil and part of that is knowing how to separate the passion for football with our commitment to democracy.

Thank you very much for the opportunity to exchange ideas and information with all of you. I hope the conference was useful for you. Thank you very much.

Source:  Secretariat for Social Communication (SECOM) of the Presidency of the Federative Republic of Brazil

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