Rio de Janeiro mayor says, “We made a mistake”

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Eduardo Paes, mayor of World Cup host city Rio de Janeiro, believes Brazil made a poor choice in structuring the tournament’s games. Although host countries are required to provide eight match venues, in 2014, there will be twelve cities involved.

That choice has led to massive spending, as the country renovates or rebuilds the stadiums hosting the World Cup matches. There have been multiple delays, including reports that the Arena Corinthians in São Paulo, where the first match will be played, will not be ready on time. Concerns remain over the lack of promised improvements to Brazil’s transportation infrastructure.

Perhaps Brazil has stretched itself too thin?

“We are a continental country, we are very big,” Paes said on Thursday. “We made a mistake. We should have fewer cities hosting the World Cup than we have.”

It doesn’t help that at least four of those stadiums are likely to go unused after the close of the tournament, having been built in areas home to teams in the lower divisions of Brazilian football. Such waste only further infuriates much of the population, who have been protesting government spending on the tournament.

Paes believes these protests, which have been occurring for nearly two years now, are likely to continue during the tournament itself. “I don’t think people are protesting against the World Cup,” he said. “People are asking for better services. They are asking for better politics. They are asking for more transparency.”

He is also worried about the potential damage playing host will have on his country’s reputation, saying the delays have already hurt Brazil’s image. However, all hope is not lost: “I don’t think we blew it. Let’s wait until next week. We’re going to have a great World Cup.”

Let’s all cross our fingers.