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Brazil

As Confederations Cup wraps up Brazil takes stock of its World Cup preparations

Unfinished stadiums, outdated infrastructure and violent street protests have overshadowed the Confederations Cup "dress rehearsal" for the 2014 World Cup. Still, organizers in Brazil have put on a show of optimism.

It was a 10 cent increase in the price of bus tickets that started the street protests, which accompanied the entire Confederations Cup.

Protesters voiced their anger at a government that spends billions on international sports events, while funding for public transport, health and education are sadly lacking.

While Brazil's infrastructure is in need of urgent modernization, Confederations Cup host cities had been looking for short-term solutions, such as special bus lanes to the stadiums or closing schools and government offices on match days in order to reduce the traffic and the impact on tourists.

But that again meant making daily life more difficult for the cities' inhabitants - and it didn't really work.

“I was told that it took some people four to five hours to get to the stadium," said Oliver Seitz, a marketing director of German origin who is employed by Brazilian club Coritiba.

Seitz noted that several journalists complained that Internet access was down during the Confederations Cup matches and they couldn't report from inside the sports venue.

"There have been quite a few problems, but it is better to encounter them now, than in one year's time at the World Cup."

But Seitz remained optimistic: "I believe that the problems have been identified now and there is enough time to solve them,” he concluded.

BRASILIA, BRAZIL - JUNE 12: Motorbikes, trucks, vehicles and helicopter from the Federal Highway Police or Policia Rodoviaria Federal, National Public Security Force or Forca Nacional de Seguranca Publica and firefighters or Corpo de Bombeiros are pictured near the Estadio Nacional on June 12, 2013 in Brasilia, Brazil. (Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)

Brazil's security forces are prepared for the World Cup

Small problems too

Some of those solvable problems involve preparing training facilities for extreme weather. During the Confederations Cup Uruguay's training ground was flooded by rain.

Sports commentator Martin Curi moved to Rio de Janeiro from Germany ten years ago.

He does not doubt the ability of the Brazilian World Cup committee to get everything ready on time for the start of the tournament next year, pointing to what he has identified as a Brazilian characteristic: Leaving everything to the last minute.

"They manage to organize Carnival ever year; they've hosted the Pope and have organized a concert of the Rolling Stones which drew an audience of one million. I don't understand why people are so skeptical that they'll manage to organize the World Cup,” he said.

Curi, who has written a book entitled "Brazil – Land of Football" went to watch and report on several Confederations Cup matches.

"Here and there I saw a few walls that hadn't been painted yet and some of the lavatories were not in operation yet, but those are small things," he said.

Ahead of the World Cup in Germany in 2006, he recalled, no one voiced security concerns, but rather about whether or not there would be a real party atmosphere.

The atmosphere during the Confederations Cup was a bit too calm for football fan Martin Curi. "The Brazilian fans at the Confed Cup were a bit of a let-down," he said. "That's probably because the most passionate football fans couldn't afford the ticket prices."

Social unrest a major concern

Considering the protests and demonstrations that marred the tournament, observers agree that the security risk outside the stadiums on the streets is the greatest risk.

Many feel that the police tactics were heavy-handed and not conducive to de-escalation. Martin Curi witnessed police attacks on peaceful demonstrators in Salvador ahead of the Brazil-Mexico match. “Without any obvious reason, police started firing teargas at people," he recalled.

"Even if there is no social unrest alongside the World Cup next year, I'm still worried how the police will deal with the potentially incendiary atmosphere of South American derbies; for example, if Brazil comes up against Argentina or Uruguay," said Seitz.

Whether the events surrounding the Confederations Cup have led to fresh plans to defuse possible tensions next year remains to be seen. 

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