Brazil will host the World Cup of Soccer in 2014 and the Olympics in 2016. The fact that two of the most important sports events will be taking place in a developing Latin American country that loves sports is exciting. In the last few years, Brazil has grown a lot, and is now the sixth- largest economy in the world, with a GDP of over $2 trillion. It is doing so well that it is even offering to lend money to the European Union. The world will be watching Brazil for the next four years, and there will be plenty to see.
Brazil has worked very hard to win these events, and it is wonderful to see that the Olympics will be hosted for the first time ever in Latin America in 2016. In 1920, Brazil competed in its first Olympic Games and now, 90 years later, the games will take place there, thanks to Carlos Nuzman, president of the Brazilian Olympic Committee, with whom I had the pleasure of working during the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta. Hosting these events will present several opportunities for the country and for companies interested in doing business there.
Brazil has been waiting for over 60 years to host a second World Cup. The first time the country hosted the event was in 1950, when Maracana Stadium was built. Unfortunately, Brazil lost to Uruguay, and it was a nightmare for all the soccer fans who attended the match. People were crying and the mood was horrible. Another interesting fact about the 1950’s cup is that the United States qualified to compete even though soccer was not a popular sport by any means in the U.S. at that time.
Brazil is in a race now to build and remodel soccer stadiums, including the famous Maracana, which will have 85,000 seats. The country is spending approximately $1.1 billion to host the competition. In addition, Brazil is remodeling its airports in order to better serve visitors. It is a daunting task for any country to master, and it will require a lot of discipline and hard work to get the job done. Nevertheless, I think Brazil will host a competition that will provide a magical environment for fans to cheer for their teams. There are great cities hosting the World Cup, including Rio de Janeiro, Salvador, and Manaus, for a total of 10 cities. You can have a fantastic time there since Brazilians know how to party and are ready to show you a good time. You will have a chance to enjoy beautiful beaches, mountains and other amazing scenery. Also, there are great restaurants serving a unique cuisine, plus nightclubs and incredible shops.
Brazil was blessed to have won the right to host the two most important events in sports. It will create an entirely new industry of sports marketing and entertainment providing many opportunities in a country with over 200 million people. Brazil is creating a massive infrastructure in a very short period of time.
American companies working in the sports and entertainment business need to be ready to compete with companies from around the world for business in Brazil. Executives should brush up their Portuguese or buy language-learning software if they don’t speak the language and take the first flight to Brazil, because Brazil needs the expertise that American companies have about major sports events. Sure, there are very capable people in Brazil, but if American executives pursue the opportunities, I am certain that a lot of business will get done.
If you think your company fits the bill, be sure to talk with colleagues who have done business in Brazil to learn a bit about the country. Please, but please, don’t ask if the capital is Buenos Aires; the capital is called Brasilia. And don’t say that you expected to see jungles everywhere. Sure, Brazil has a lot of tropical forests in the north of the country, but what you will find is that the majority of the Brazilian population lives in urban areas around the coast.
Another very important thing to remember is to understand the meaning of the word jeitinho. It is a word that you will hear a lot and, basically, means that if something is not working, Brazilians will find a way to make it work.
Oh, yeah, before you go, be sure to listen to Tom Jobin so you can go into Brazil in a Brazilian frame of mind. The advice I am providing is the advice of a carioca (a Rio de Janeiro native) and one who has over 15 years of experience working with sports marketing and entertainment. One final thing: Boa viagem! (Have a good trip!)