Dissatisfaction with the millions that are being spent on stadia construction, while many across the country are still lacking basic services like schools and housing, the deaths of many construction workers who had been recruited to help build the new facilities, and a general dissatisfaction about Brazil’s wide economic gap are just some of the injustices that people are protesting against.
Even more glaringly, the extravagant spend may be for naught, as the stadium scheduled to host the opening game may not be finished in time, and the completion of several other venues is delayed. Authorities are reacting to public demonstrations with a heavy hand, using tear gas and rubber bullets on protestors. Naturally, with time running against the construction crews, questions about health and safety are also being raised. Recently, a construction worker was electrocuted on site amidst the rush to finish venues before the tournament. He was the eighth stadium construction fatality for the games.
Even Brazilian football legend Pele, who holds the position of special advisor to the World Cup organising committee, was critical of the process, citing corruption as a key cause of many of the problems.
This chain of events holds a valuable lesson about construction and development. When there is an overriding sense of inequity, the dispossessed feel that they have no choice but to piggyback on global events such as the World Cup in order to attract mainstream media attention and have their voices heard. When construction schedules are not properly planned and implemented, it is easier for fatal mistakes to happen, and the sad reality is that Brazil’s HSSE failings may pale in comparison to Qatar’s (picked to host the 2022 World Cup), where cheap migrant labour is easy to come by, work conditions and lodging are not up to standard and safety laws are lax at best.
As a major player in the corporate property development industry, RGM is all too aware that while profit is the bottom-line concern of businesses, major development must be done with the bigger picture in mind – and the safety and well being of both people and the environment should always be at the top of that list.