RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — Former Brazil striker Ronaldo said Friday he was "appalled" at the chaotic preparations for the country's World Cup, arguing that little of what had been promised to the people was delivered.
A member of the local organizing committee, Ronaldo's comments in the newspaper Folha de S.Paulo are his harshest criticism so far of Brazil's planning for the World Cup, which opens in just under two weeks.
"I have followed everything very closely," Ronaldo said. "I had hoped everything would work out — even at the last minute. It's a shame. I feel appalled. There is a disregard for the population. I think, primarily, serious planning was lacking for everything to have been delivered. We had time — seven years."
Brazil is spending about $11.5 billion on the World Cup, with $4 billion going to 12 new or renovated stadiums — four of which are expected to be white elephants. Several of the stadiums are still incomplete, with workers struggling to finish work inside, or work outside including roads and access areas.
The lavish spending has been harshly criticized at home and abroad, with many questioning priorities in a country with poor school and hospitals and a slowing economy.
Ronaldo is a local hero after leading the country to two World Cup titles, but he has been growing more critical in recent weeks. Pele, the country's other football idol, has also questioned World Cup spending and national priorities.
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