Inside Lines: Brazil’s demise spells trouble for Rio Olympics in 2016


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The Independent Online

Brazil’s World Cup humiliation could be disastrous for the 2016 Olympics in Rio, according to one of Britain’s top international sports analysts. Professor Ellis Cashmore, senior lecturer in culture, media and sport at Staffordshire University, says the knock-on effect of the national despair over the 7-1 semi-final defeat by Germany spells more trouble for a Games already beset with construction delays and financial problems.

“For Brazil, hosting the World Cup has been a disaster,” he said. “I think they will rue the day they ever bid for it. The World Cup was designed as a showcase for Brazil to be joining the world’s elite as a new economic power. Instead it has opened them up to ridicule. For years they have been the custodians of the ‘Beautiful Game’ but that reputation has ended. Now they have two years before the Olympics. There were protests going into this World Cup because people thought it was too expensive, and I think the Games will now lose more public support. We will see an escalation in protests.”

Cashmore is not alone in viewing Brazil’s World Cup woe as a bad omen for the Olympics. Several figures in the Olympic movement are privately expressing concern, although Brazil’s president, Dilma Rousseff, did her best to reassure International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach that this will not be the case when they met in Brasilia on Friday.

Bach, who praised the organisation of the World Cup, declared: “I was pleased to hear the confidence President Rousseff has in the Games and what they will deliver.”

Bach’s own priority is to ensure that the ticketing for Rio 2016 is not hit by a similar scandal to that of the World Cup, now under police investigation. He has launched a review of the process. But whether the Olympics can be tickety-boo after Brazil’s football débâcle is in doubt.

Nice one, Bazza

Never one to miss a trick, veteran multi-sports entrepreneur Barry Hearn won a timely settlement of Leyton Orient’s three-year battle with the Premier League over the use of the Olympic Stadium before selling his club to Italian billionaire Francesco Becchetti. While the terms are confidential, I understand Orient received substantial compensation in an agreement which confirms neighbours West Ham as sole anchor tenants at £2 million a year on a 99-year lease, while allowing Orient to discuss the possibility of playing the odd “showcase” match there.

“It has been a huge frustration,” Hearn reflects. “The fact is they missed the boat by building the wrong sort of stadium. It should have been designed as a ground-sharing football stadium from the off. That mistake has cost the taxpayer hundreds of millions. I’ve never had any problem with West Ham. It was the Government who made a terrible decision in not taking advantage of what Olympic legacy really means.”

Trophy for Tanni

Snubbed by expenses cheat Maria Miller, the former Culture Secretary, when set to become chair of Sport England, Paralympian icon Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson has received a deserved accolade from the Sport and Recreation Alliance for her contribution to community sport. Their Arthur Bell Trophy – previous recipients include Lord Coe and Sir Bobby Charlton – was presented by Prince Edward at St James’s Palace last week.