World Cup pessimism is growing among Brazilians, according to a new poll, while protesters vowed to disrupt the big kick-off.
A poll of 2,091 people questioned on February 18 and 19 showed 54 per cent believed the tournament would be either “average”, “bad” or “very bad” — although 30 per cent were at least in the average camp.
FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke nonetheless said he was optimistic as he returned to Brazil for a visit which will culminate in an assessment of latest preparations on Wednesday.
“Together with the LOC (local organising committee) and Brazil, we’ll find solutions for the remaining challenges,” Valcke tweeted on arrival.
The Datafolha poll was taken just after FIFA dropped a threat to exclude the venue of Curitiba over lagging preparations as the June 12 kick-off approaches.
Eight per cent predicted the tournament would be “bad” and 16 per cent “very bad” while 33 per cent plumped for “good” and just 13 per cent “excellent.”
Polls in recent months have seen support slipping amid public protests at the estimated $11 billion cost with many Brazilians feeling state cash would be better spent on improving poor public services.
Protest groups earlier called for marches nationwide on the opening day of the competition.
Last June, more than a million Brazilians hit the streets to protest during the Confederations Cup, a World Cup dress rehearsal.
The Datafolha poll showed 52 per cent of respondents backing protests — the lowest level since last year.
Many Brazilians have been put off by radical elements infiltrating the protests, many of which, while drawing less people than last year, have often turned violent.
Even so, the climate of protest has continued with one held in Sao Paulo on Saturday and fresh anti-Cup marches announced for Sao Paulo and Rio this Thursday.
A further issue bothering Cup organisers are concerns over the cost of temporary facilities at the 12 venues.
On Monday, Porto Alegre prefect Jose Fortunati said he was still concerned at the finance of temporary structures despite FIFA and regional authorities as well as stadium owner Internacional club indicating agreement was reached last month.
“Complementary structures” are largely covered by FIFA, as per a 2007 Stadium Agreement whereby the game’s world body and local organising committees provide hospitality and commercial areas as well as telecommunication systems for the media.
FIFA is also paying for the cost of power generators for broadcast operations.
Host cities are responsible for remaining temporary spaces such as media facilities but Fortunati indicated that Porto Alegre could miss out on the Cup unless companies were offered tax benefits to help foot a multimillion bill.