The fan experience at the 2013 FIFA Confederation Cup

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Protests are not only in the streets of Brazil, but in their cherished soccer stadiums. (photo courtesy of Kitsapsun)

FORTALEZA (BDCi) – – On Wednesday, the Brazilian national team showed grit and talent to outlast the Mexican side 2-0 in front of 60,000+ adoring fans at the 2013 FIFA Confederation Cup.

That kind of skill, organization and effectiveness was unfortunately not duplicated in the event organization efforts or in the basic infrastructure surrounding the Arena Castelao.

Event organization and management – There was an obvious opportunity missed by event organizers by not staffing and stocking concession stands sufficiently. BDCi went to a typical concession stand in the Arena Castelao and found the following, rather incredulous issues:

– Only 2 lines available because there were only 4 staff persons available to serve and process payment. We left at the 35th minute of the first half, and being about the 25th person in line, returned to the game at the 65th minute…about an hour wait.

  • In no way does BDCi blame the servers. These 4 poor souls were severely understaffed, paid ~$1.50 hour in a 12-hour work-shift with only 1 meal break. How could they possibly do their basic job AND fend off rude fans that push and shove to interrupt customers being served by them?
    • Next to the concession windows was a canopy of half a dozen event staff people just hanging out, not helping the concession stand situation AT ALL.
    • If you wanted a crash course in Brazilian Portuguese curse words, you need look no further than this concession line for instruction. Everyone was PISSED and vocal about it.
      • Insufficient supplies of food and a limited menu give the food offering aspect of this report card an F. FIFA appeared to only stock products of their sponsors and nothing else. Here’s the menu: hot dog, nacho cheese tortilla chips, rippled potato chips, cake and salted peanuts. The drinks offered were: Coke, Coke Zero, Sprite and water. Of course Brahma and Budweiser were also available, and in large supply.
      • Large supply did not include hot dogs. BDCi ordered 4 hot dogs for our group, but only got 3 because those were the last hot dogs in stock! We also purchased the last 2 nacho cheese tortilla chip bags as well. Wow!! We’d heard that they ran out of food in the Brasilia opening match, but we didn’t believe it. Well….believe it!
      • Our hot dogs unfortunately could not be decorated because there weren’t condiment areas to go to. No ketchup, mayonnaise, mustard, relish, batatas fritas….NADA!! I’ve had Brazilian hot dogs, and they are delicious. You’re telling me that you can’t even give us the spread of supplies to do it ourselves?  But hey there’s nothing like a dry hot dog when you’re starving after waiting in line for an hour.

Infrastructure around the stadium – First, please understand that this beautiful stadium is in the absolutely worst area of the beach city of Fortaleza. Poverty and crime run rampant in the surrounding areas, and yet event management just seemingly ignores transportation concerns.

– BDCi cannot comment on the women’s bathroom area, but the men’s was disgusting, reflecting again a lack of staff to maintain it.

  • Surprisingly the toilets had no seat…just the base and a cover. For a second, I thought I was back in grade school in the 70’s and not a “state of the art” football stadium.

– Stadium parking was extremely limited. BDCi only observed maybe a couple dozen “Turismo” buses at the most in the small parking lot. In a small defense of the management, there were some protests going on, but with such a huge military police presence, BDCi thinks that they could have created a detour and allowed more taxis and buses to drive to the stadium before and after the game. BDCi was unbelievably fortunate to find a taxi before the game to drive us up. However after the game, we had to walk with thousands of game attendees for about a couple miles to get to our cars which were parked, at risk, in private business parking lots.

  • It was interesting to BDCi that more private businesses didn’t open up their parking areas to charge for stadium parking….a huge profit missed.

– There were “park and ride” opportunities where public buses would take you from designated parking areas to the game, but the advertisement of this limited service was basically a “someone who knew somebody who knew another” process. And of course these buses were packed like sardines, so not the most comfortable experience for sports fans.

  • An official FIFA-CBF “shuttle” service should have been commissioned within the budget. Budget? What is that?

All in all, if this were private industry, the shareholders would fire the management ASAP and replace them with people who are dedicated to a result that pleases fans attending in person, and those watching around the globe. For as much pride as there is deservingly so for the soccer team, there should be a greater level of pride that the home country’s leadership didn’t let the citizens of Brazil down, but represented them to the world with class, professionalism and success. Since the protestors are complaining about World Cup funds being siphoned away from the public needs, you would think that the least thing FIFA-CBF could do would be to put on the greatest show on earth in the greatest way ever.

For those attending any Confederation Cup matches, we welcome your comments. Please feel free to post in the comment area below or on our Facebook page.

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