Connect the dots

Messieurs Teixeira, Kassab, Sanchez, Odebrecht and Lula

The history of Palmeiras is one of overcoming obstacles, prejudice and political opposition. Mistaken is the individual who think these problems belong to the past.

Construction work on Palmeiras’ new arena, meticulously planned during more than two years, should have started months ago. Oddly enough, there seems always to be missing a signature here, a document there… And when everything finally should be in order, some marginal governmental agency in the state of São Paulo suddenly raises like Phoenix from the ashes, demanding clarifications and new studies if feasibility on one account or the other.

At the same time, in the misty lands where politics, passion and big business meet…

● Morumbi, the stadium of São Paulo Futebol Club, is vetoed by the Brazilian Football Federation (CBF) and FIFA alike. Thus, the state of São Paulo currently stands without at suitable stadium for hosting the opening game of the World Cup 2014.

● 2010 is election year in Brazil, and the current president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva’s protégé Dilma Rousseff – the mother of infrastructure projects within the Lula government – is the strongest candidate to become Brazil’s next president.

● São Paulo based club Corinthians this week commemorate its centenary.

● Brazil’s President Lula is not only a hard core Corinthiano, but member and counsellor of the club.

● Corinthians currently hold in usufruct a close to 200.000 m2 large piece of land, handed over in 1988 by the municipality on the premises that a stadium be constructed on the spot. The concession runs for 90 years. The piece of land is estimated at approximately €90 million.

● Odebrecht – one of Brazil’s largest multinationals – acts in sectors like engineering, construction and oil and gas. The company is already bidding for contracts in the order of €1,25 billion related to the construction of stadiums for the World Cup 2014. Odebrecht is also one of the companies most contracted by the Federal Government to carry out large infrastructure projects throughout Brazil.

● Recently, President Lula personally contacted a high positioned Odebrecht representative, promoting the idea that the company construct a stadium for Corinthians on the abovementioned piece of land. Odebrecht would finance the construction, estimated at €140 million, and be in possession of the naming rights of the stadium for the coming ten years (a not very generous time frame to recover the initial investment, to say the least).

● Rumour has it that financing for Corinthians’ stadium could be facilitated through loans from the Brazilian National Investment Bank – BNDES, at reduced interest rates. Also, BNDES president Luciano Coutinho is said to be contemplated for the position as Minister of Finance, in case Rousseff is elected president in October.

● With this turn of events, “everyone” seem happy: the Governor Kassab of São Paulo, President Lula, CBF “pope” Ricardo Teixeira, Corinthians president Sanchez, Odebrecht… Teixeira apparently gave the project a thumbs up without even having looked at it. Thus, in record time, a solution to São Paulo’s problems was elaborated, presented and approved!

In the light of the above, the fact that Corinthians now demands that the 200.000 m2 large piece of land be handed over permanently, seems a mere detail…

So… when you’re done connecting them dots, you tell me what you think.

— ooo —

(on a side note: it’s curious to learn that yet another stadium that Odebrecht is building in the state of Bahia will cost around €270 million, almost double the estimated cost for the hyper-modern large one for Corinthians. Detail: the stadium in Bahia is paid for by the Government, i.e. public money)

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