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AP: Corruption linked to soaring Brazil World Cup stadium prices

By Mike Singer | CBSSports.com

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National Stadium in Brasilia has cost a reported $900 million. (Getty Images)

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The protests in Brazil last year were largely founded in the general public's frustration with government spending on lavish stadiums ahead of the World Cup and the 2016 Olympics.

And according to a recent Associated Press report, those protests, which saw more than one million people take to the streets and interrupt Confederation Cup games, appear to support a legitimate argument.

The cost of building Brasilia's stadium, one of the host arenas for next month's World Cup, has ballooned to $900 million in public funds, nearly triple what was originally planned. The excess is due to allegedly fraudulent billing, government auditors claim, and the stadium is now believed to be the world's second-most expensive stadium.

In light of that news, the AP did an independent investigation that shows “skyrocketing campaign contributions by companies that have won the most World Cup projects. The lead builder of Brasilia's stadium increased its political donations 500-fold in the most recent elections.”

The connection raises doubts about the government's ability to police stadium contracts and further mars the corruption associated with big-time sporting events such as the World Cup and the Olympics, both not coincidentally heading to Brazil in the coming years.

While no companies face corruption charges yet, auditors claim that they have found $275 million in alleged price-gouging and haven't completed their full investigation.

"These politicans are working for those who financed campaigns," one auditor told the AP.

Those protests, which stemmed from public unrest about tax money funding stadiums instead of public transportation or health care, appear to have a significant basis.

The AP cites Andrade Gutierrez, a giant construction firm, as one of the primary culprits. In 2008, the company donated almost $75,000 to local elections, but “four years later, once it was known which cities were hosting Cup matches, and thus which political parties controlled the local governments that awarded Cup projects, the company's political contributions totaled $37.1 million.”

One of the loudest criticisms of the excessive World Cup spending is that most of the stadiums will become useless after the Cup and the Olympics, meaning that billions (the 12 stadiums have cost a reported $4.2 billion) could be wasted.

The Cup kicks off in 30 days, and there's sure to be no shortage of criticisms from now until then.

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