RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil – As a last wave of World Cup visitors headed for airports Monday, Brazilians began to reclaim the pristine beaches of Copacabana and Ipanema while traffic in Sao Paulo returned to its regular weekday snarl and seaside hotels emptied.
After seven years of planning and 31 days of competition, the most expensive soccer tournament in history is over. And dire predictions that street demonstrations, massive transportation breakdowns and construction delays would disrupt the event proved unfounded, with Brazil’s tournament ranking among the most successful in World Cup history.
“We’ve eliminated the doubts of all who didn’t believe in us,” Brazil President Dilma Rousseff said.
By the time the final accounting is done, the bill for this World Cup is likely to exceed $14 billion, more than three times what it cost to put on the 2010 tournament in South Africa. But attendance this year was higher as well, topping 3.4 million, the second-highest figure in tournament history.
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Political protests that drew more than a million people into the streets of Rio during last summer’s Confederation Cup did not return despite strikes and work stoppages that continued until the eve of the tournament.
Sepp Blatter, president of FIFA, soccer’s governing body and organizer of the World Cup, gave the host country a 9.25 rating on a scale of 10 in his tournament report. He criticized FIFA for not better tackling incidents of fan discrimination in stadiums.
Blatter said he spoke with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Sunday about making the issue a priority at the 2018 World Cup there.
Brazil’s World Cup featured a record-tying 171 goals.
TV ratings are high in U.S.
NEW YORK – Sunday’s World Cup final, a 1-0 Germany victory over Argentina in extra time, set a television-viewership record for soccer in the United States, capping a tournament that exceeded expectations for interest on ABC/ESPN and Univision.
An estimated 26.5 million people in the United States watched the final, the Nielsen company said. The match had 17.3 million viewers on ABC and another 9.2 million on Spanish-language Univision.
The 2010 final between Spain and the Netherlands, along with the Americans’ 2-2 draw against Portugal this year, both had 24.7 million viewers.
Average viewership for all 64 World Cup matches was up 39 percent over 2010 on ESPN and its sister station ABC, and up 34 percent on Univision, Nielsen said. On ESPN, Cup matches averaged 4.56 million TV viewers.
• Luiz Felipe Scolari, 65, will no longer coach Brazil, which finished fourth.
In a statement, Brazil’s soccer confederation said its president, Jose Maria Marin, accepted what it called “Scolari’s resignation.”
• Eight people from Malaysia, China and Hong Kong were accused of operating a temporary, illegal gambling ring from exclusive high-roller villas at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas that investigators said logged millions of dollars in bets on World Cup matches.
Wei Seng Phua, 50, a suspected organized-crime member, and the others were named in a criminal complaint.