Prior to the last few World Cups, FIFA held a tour of the host cities and their stadiums for the international news agencies. I was able to attend the second of two tours last week in an effort to get my head around the enormous undertaking that will be the 2014 FIFA World Cup.
With a staff of over 70, covering 64 matches across 12 host cities, next year’s World Cup will be one of the largest events ever undertaken by the Major Events Team at Getty Images.
Our tour started north of Salvador in the resort town of Costa Do Sauipe at the 2014 FIFA World Cup Draw.
From there we traveled to Sao Paulo to tour the stadium that will host the World Cup opener between host nation Brazil and Croatia on June 12, 2014. And then on to Cuiaba located in the geographic center of South America. Cuiaba, which has one of the smallest populations of all of the host cities is located on the border of three diverse ecosystems: the savannahs of the Cerrado, the wetlands of the Pantanal and the Amazon jungle.
From Cuiaba, we headed to Manaus after a short layover in Port Velho. Manaus, located in the heart of the hot and muggy Amazon, will host the much anticipated match between England and Italy. The stadium which has been designed to look like a traditional basket used by the locals to gather fruit from the jungle, will serve as an amazing backdrop.
After Manaus it was down south to Curitiba. The Arena da Baixada, located Curitiba in the heart of the city is by far the furthest from being finished out of all of the stadiums we visited. When we got there, we were greeted by a pile of dirt 20 feet high where a grassy pitch is supposed to be. Construction is progressing quickly and once the stadium is done, the scene in the surrounding neighborhood will definitely be a lively one.
After the chaos we encountered at that construction zone, we headed to the nearly finished Estadio Beira-Rio in Porto Alegre, the southern most of all of the host cities. The city, with its Argentinean influences, is sure to play an amazing host when Argentina plays against Nigeria there on June 25th.
From the southern most host city of Porto Alegre, we headed to one of the northern most host cities of Natal. Natal is known for its long sandy beaches, miles and miles of rolling sand dunes and amazing seafood. Unfortunately, we didn’t have much time to enjoy any of it as we got in at 2am and had to head to the stadium at 9:30am. It is definitely a place I am looking forward to returning to one day.
Natal was the last stop on our tour so after a quick lunch in the stadium hall amongst all of the construction workers, we headed off to the airport bound for Rio De Janeiro and to our connections back home.
After it was all over it had taken seven days, 12 flights and 14,850 Miles but we saw some great sites along the way.
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Here is a map of our flights and a list of our connections:
All in all, it was an amazing and eye opening experience. Brazil is a large diverse country and covering the World Cup there will present its challenges but it will also surely produce some amazing imagery.
Michael Heiman is Managing Editor for Major Events at Getty Images.
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