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2014 World Cup: opportunities and risks for the host country’s image

2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil: this is supposed to be the best World Cup ever. What soccer officials have evoked for a long time – i.e. the fantastic opportunity to position Brazil as an excellent host country – may aiso turn into a disaster for its image.

During the World Cup, large crowds excited supporters will flock to the host cities and surrounding regions and – at least that is what is expected! – spend lots of money. In addition, there will be many Brazilian supporters watching the matches outdoors and in the international community. All expect a perfectly organized long party, which – hopefully – will happen wlthout any wild riots and major mishaps.

Now let’s look at it from the perspective of the people that during the 2014 World Cup will provide services to the public: cab drivers, police officers, street vendors, waiters in restaurants, salespeople, railway employees and many others. For these people, World Cup days are labour-intensive, stressful and exhausting. Many of them will be relieved when everything is over. Thousands of volunteers, specially recruited for the 2014 World Cup, will also play an important hosting rote. They will be extremely motivated and therefore work almost for free: the joint experience, the „World Cup spirit“ and attractive merchandising articles they will receive as gifts is pay enough for them. Many of those volunteers have probably never been laced with such a challenge before. Will they be able to sustain their enthusiasm when their nerves are on the edge due to the crowd? How will they deal with sensitive situations? Are a couple of briefings and a written manual enouqh? How will all these ambassadors of the Brazilian hospitality be prepared for the 2014 World Cup?

Time is soon running short for host cities to present their concepts on how they wish to approach these training campaigns. Instructing and training thousands of participants on how to behave and deal with difficult situations in the commotion of supporters represents an enormous logistical challenge. Planning and implementation require much more than a year. And before that, the funding of those projects has to be provided. In Brazil, planning is normally done on a short-term basis. Can that work?