With less than two months to go before the Soccer World Cup, shops in the Argentine capital of Buenos Aires are already full of souvenirs.
With less than two months to go before the Soccer World Cup, shops in the Argentine capital of Buenos Aires are already full of souvenirs. The country is expecting a big influx of soccer fans from all over the world.
SYNOPSIS: Preparations for the "Mundial" as the Argentines call it, are reaching fever pitch. But the question is: will the tourists spend anything like the money which is being spent on preparing the country for the Cup?
The River Plate Stadium -- just a short bus ride from the centre of Buenos Aires -- is the scene of frantic activity as workmen make substantial last-minute structural changes.
There has also been a big problem with the pitch...part of which is still being laid. The re-turfing began only last month, when startled officials found that large sections of green had turned brown virtually overnight.
The military-run committee which is organising the Cup, banned journalists from visiting the site for two weeks. When one cameraman finally got in he saw this re-turfing.
A new fast drainage system laid beneath the top soil was apparently to blame by not allowing rainwater to drain off. The pitch retained it, and the rain-water mixed with salts and acids from the underlay, causing the grass to turn brown.
Officials say all will be ready for the Cup, which begins with a match between West Germany and Poland on June the first.
Extensive reconstruction was also required at the other big stadium in Buenos Aires -- Velez Sarfield. and new stadiums are being built in Cordoba, Mendoza and Mar del Plata. The real cost of staging the World Cup is still a matter for debate within Argentina. Critics say it will cost the country 700 million U.S. dollars. But supporters say much of this will be offset by tourism.
Argentina was selected for the Cup in 1966. But since then there have been three military coups and the fall of a populist government.