RIO DE JANEIRO — Former Brazil striker Ronaldo said Friday he was “appalled” at the chaotic preparations for the country’s World Cup, arguing that little of what had been promised to the people was delivered.
A member of the local organizing committee, Ronaldo’s comments in the newspaper Folha de S.Paulo are his harshest criticism so far of Brazil’s planning for the World Cup, which opens in just under two weeks.
“I have followed everything very closely,” Ronaldo said. “I had hoped everything would work out — even at the last minute. It’s a shame. I feel appalled. There is a disregard for the population. I think, primarily, serious planning was lacking for everything to have been delivered. We had time — seven years.”
Brazil is spending about $11.5 billion on the World Cup, with $4 billion going to 12 new or renovated stadiums — four of which are expected to be white elephants. Several of the stadiums are still incomplete, with workers struggling to finish work inside, or work outside including roads and access areas.
The lavish spending has been harshly criticized at home and abroad, with many questioning priorities in a country with poor school and hospitals and a slowing economy.
Ronaldo is a local hero after leading the country to two World Cup titles, but he has been growing more critical in recent weeks. Pele, the country’s other football idol, has also questioned World Cup spending and national priorities.
“I got on the (organizing) committee because it (the Cup) was a great opportunity for Brazil,” Ronaldo added. “We are failing to take advantage of it.”
He estimated only 30 percent of non-stadium infrastructure had been built.
“Nobody here will ever see another World Cup in Brazil,” Ronaldo said, citing continual clashes between Brazilian officials and officials of FIFA, the world governing body of football.
In 2012 Jerome Valcke, the top FIFA official in charge of the World Cup, said Brazilian organizers needed a “kick in the backside” to speed work on venues.
In a separate interview published Friday in the newspaper O Globo, retiring Supreme Court Chief Justice Joaquim Barbosa said the World Cup would “probably be very bad for the country’s image because those responsible for its organization did not prepare themselves for an event of this size.”
Despite the cutting comments, Ronaldo also predicted the World Cup would be a “success.”
“We will host a great World Cup,” he said. “It will be a brilliant Cup. Marvelous. We’ll show the world we’re capable of organizing it.”