FIFA has publicly denied any wrongdoing in the construction of stadiums used in the 2014 World Cup in Brazil after investigators in the country alleged that at least half were built on the back of corrupt contracts.
The scandal surrounds the allegations that companies and local government officials rigged the bidding process that led to certain firms being picked to build the arenas in return for kick backs or bribes, resulting in building costs becoming vastly more expensive than initially planned, at the taxpayer’s expense.
Plea bargains by executives of Odebrecht SA, the Brazilian construction giant that’s at the heart of a nationwide scandal have brought the information into the wider public sphere. FIFA, who are fighting their own PR battle after numerous corruption scandals, have distanced themselves from the crime.
“The procurement of such services were under the sole discretion and control of the respective stadium authorities without any influence or control of FIFA,” the soccer body said in an emailed response to questions from Bloomberg. “FIFA expects that all parties involved in the organizing and hosting of FIFA competitions follow local laws and regulations.”
Brazil’s organizers chose to select 12 stadia to host matches during the tournament, instead of the minimum 8 venues. Despite promises of the opposite, nearly all the cost of funding the tournament has been subsidized by the taxpayer.
Upgrades to Rio’s famous Maracana stadium, where Germany beat Argentina 1-0 in the tournament’s final, ended up costing more than $300 million, $100 million over budget, despite the stadium being upgraded only three years previously.
$300 million was spent on Sao Paulo’s Corinthians Arena but, according to testimony from Odebrecht’s jailed former Chief Executive Officer Marcelo Odebrecht, was estimated to have cost $100 million. He said the price was agreed at a dinner with high-ranking politicians.
The cost of the whole tournament was about $3 billion, more than three times over budget.
“Each host country also has to design their stadiums in such a way that allows them to be used in a sustainable manner over the longer term,” FIFA said in a document issued before the tournament.
However, several of the stadiums are suffering from financial difficulties and low use, with some becoming decrepit. The 72,000 capacity Mane Garrincha stadium in Brasillia, a city which doesn’t have a soccer team, has been used as a bus depot.