Sao Paulo: Former Brazilian star Romario has again criticized his country’s preparations for the 2014 World Cup, saying he fears it faces embarrassment if work on outdated airports is not speeded up.
Now a congressman, Romario said he is certain there will be overspending in many of the 12 World Cup stadiums and that “they will rob” public funds and use the tournament as an excuse.
In an interview, Romario said it will be “chaos” in Brazil’s airports during the World Cup if renovation and upgrades don’t get started as soon as possible.
“We will be embarrassed with our airports here in Brazil if the necessary work doesn’t start quickly,” Romario said. “To tell you the truth, I’m trying to stay positive and I’m hoping that it won’t happen. But we see what happens during long holidays now, and it’s not going to be different in the World Cup.”
Soccer great Pele previously said that Brazil was risking embarrassment because of the condition of its airports.
The nation’s airports are struggling to meet the growing demands brought on by Brazil’s economy, and the government and organizers—including FIFA—have repeatedly said air transportation will be a major concern during the World Cup.
The government privatized operations at three of the nation’s main airports on Monday and it plans to do the same to others in the near future to try to speed up the needed upgrades.
Improving airports plagued with bottlenecks, long lines and poor infrastructure was a key promise the government made in its winning bid to host soccer’s top event.
Romario also said he is concerned with overspending and misuse of public funds in many of the stadiums that will host matches in 2014 and in the 2013 Confederations Cup.
“I’ve been in the 12 host cities and unfortunately a lot of the stadiums will be left to be finished just a year or so before the tournament because then it is categorized as emergency work and there is no more need for bidding processes. The sky will be the limit then, you can’t imagine the costs that will appear in the majority of these stadiums. They will rob without shame.”
Romario didn’t specify whom he was referring to when he used the term “rob.”
Last year, after one of his visits to the host cities, Romario said that he was disappointed with what he saw and that he expected “problems” to get the country ready for the World Cup and said that “things are not going to happen.”
He said the tournament in Brazil is “not going to be the best of all time” as he once thought when the nation won the right to host it in 2007.