Roberto Siviero- General Manager, Stadium & Venues, 2014 FIFA World Cup Share PDF Print E-mail
Profile of the week
Roberto Siviero is the General Manager of Stadium and Venues for the 2014 World Cup.
After completing his education in the United States, Roberto started work with Corinthians Football Club, where he implemented projects to improve match day operations.
Following on from this, Roberto worked for the XV Pan-American Games, Rio 2007, looking after the Venue Operations, Spectator Services and Operational Communications. This was the largest sporting project in Brazil before the country gained the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympic Games.
After the successful Rio 2007 Games, Roberto became involved in the Rio 2016 bid for the Olympics, acting as the Finance Chapter Project Manager and later helping to deliver the Ticketing chapter of the bid book.
In addition, Roberto helped FIFA deliver the Rio 2008 Futsal World Cup as the Maracanãzinho Venue Manager.
Recently, Roberto worked as a Cluster Manager for the London 2012 Organising Committee, before becoming a consultant, helping with the Transport Planning for the 2011 Guadalajara Pan American Organising Committee.
Since August 2010, Roberto has been with the Brazilian Local Organising Committee for the World Cup, with the aim of delivering an unforgettable World Cup in 2014.
By Edward Rangsi and Marc Sibbons
What influenced your decision to enter into the world of sports business?
I’ve been very enthusiastic about sports since I was young and I knew I wanted to be involved in the industry somehow. I actually started out coaching, but there was a legislation change in Brazil. There was a mandatory law, which meant football clubs were to be run like business firms. That was when I thought I could be a factor in evolving sports administration in Brazil. That’s what flicked the switch.
How did you get your big opportunity at Corinthians?
While I was studying for my Masters in Upstate New York, Buffalo, several corporations, investment firms and sport marketing firms began striking deals with top football clubs in Brazil for the commercialisation of rights. One of such deals was struck between Corinthians and an US investment firm, who then hired a sports group from New York. I got a hold of the people in New York and went for an interview by bus, which took almost ten hours! I offered to do the internship at Corinthians, explained my case and I became the third employee of that joint venture.
Are you a Corinthians supporter?
Actually, I am a Corinthians supporter. It’s funny because I tried to mentally not show it. In Brazil, the club administrator is just a supporter with power and I didn’t want to be seen in that light, even though I was really happy inside.
Has your experience working on the 2007 Pan American Games helped you prepare for the Brazil 2014 project?
The experience in the Olympic world definitely helped a lot. The 2007 Pan-American Games in Rio showed the capacity that Brazil has to stage such a large event and was the showcase for the Olympic bid. I and several other people who worked on those events bring an expertise that we learnt from the problems and issues we faced. The main difference is that we have to now do it over twelve cities. It’s a really big challenge to make the same event, with the same standards, with the same organization, with the same level of people working in those twelve cities in an indigenous country. We’ve used what we’ve learnt in planning and we’re anticipating issues that we know will come around.
As General Manager of Stadium & Venues for Brazil 2014, what are your job responsibilities?
I divide it very simply into two areas; infrastructure and operations. In terms of infrastructure, we have the opportunity to take the FIFA recommendations and apply them to the legacy projects of the stadiums that are being built and refurbished. We take all those recommendations and act as a free consultant to the stadium construction teams in order to help them achieve the best legacy stadium that they can. That’s one big part of the job.
Temporary adaptations for the World Cup and the Confederations Cup are also dealt through our department. No stadium in the world is ready to host a World Cup match in its legacy state mainly because you have a demand of clients that surpasses the structure that you have. For instance, for the World Cup there can be 600-1000 journalists, depending on the stage of the competition. You cannot possibly have the adequate amount of media tribunes to hold that amount of people. So, all stadiums have to erect media centers in order to give the journalists a place to work.
The operation side deals with the planning, together with the PMO (Project Management Office) of the World Cup Organizing Committee. We are helping them plan until we get to matchday and everybody knows what to do, how to do it and how to deliver the service to the clients. We conduct the planning of all those areas that make an event - catering, logistics, transport, security, broadcast, medical services - in order to get the integrated approach that is needed.
What are the most challenging and, equally, rewarding aspects of your job?
There is an opportunity for a big paradigm shift in terms of the level of quality of the stadiums and the level of operations in the stadiums. The challenge is to be able to help that jump because now it’s very rudimentary, particularly if you compare it to the U.S and England. That’s the biggest challenge and the biggest reward because we are able to influence such a large component of sport in Brazil.
Are there any concerns at this stage?
Well, there are always concerns because construction work is always hard to control; bad weather, strikes and all sorts of stuff, but we are confident that all stadiums are on track for the World Cup. For the Confederations Cup, we are pushing them to deliver six new stadiums a bit earlier than planned and the cities have responded really well.
The Maracanã Stadium is the largest stadium at the 2014 World Cup.  How is this particular development progressing?
It’s fine. It’s a huge construction project. It’s one of the stadiums that was supposed to have finished a bit later, but they’ve been able to accelerate the work a lot. It’s really a case study on how to transform such a large construction. The big problem was that they had to remove the concrete roof, which is really impressive. You had to remove it, not destroy it because you couldn’t harm what was underneath. They had to cut it and take it out piece by piece, which took a lot of time. Now, they’re in a very good position and people will be very impressed by the end result. We’re expecting the stadium to be ready in the first quarter of 2013.
What other stadiums are sure to catch the eye in 2014?
I think the Sao Paulo stadium is going to be another because Corinthians are positioning themselves as one of the top club’s in the world and they want to show that the stadium is right up there with the budget of the Maracanã. The Brasília stadium will be very impressive as well in terms of the design and facilities. I think those three, together with the new Mineirão will be the ones people will enjoy the most.
The CBF estimates that that the cost of construction and remodeling of stadiums alone will be approximately over R$1.9 billion (£550m). How is this expensive commitment going to see a return on investment?
Football in Brazil is due a boom in terms of economic turnout because the country’s growing. There is a lot of people entering middle-class and the people that were middle class are getting a bit more money in their pockets. Of course, some stadiums where you don’t have a strong football presence will have to work a bit harder in terms of attracting other events or maybe attracting a main tenant in football to incur the stadium revenue. Nevertheless, we think all of them will benefit from the new set of conditions that we are getting because of the country’s growth.
How much is the government supporting the venues for 2014?
We have full support from the government. Nine of the twelve stadiums are state-owned and three of them are private. So, the federal government has been one of the main financing entities through its national development bank, which lends money to big projects. National, state and city have all been very supportive of getting these buildings ready.
Will modern infrastructure revitalise poorer neighborhoods?
Well, it depends on the site. For instance, the Corinthians stadium is being built on the side that is not necessarily poor, but less developed than the downtown areas of the city. The city government has actually given a large tax exempt for not only the stadium, but also other projects that can be done in that area of the city, which makes people want to build things, have better transport links and so on.
Although, almost all of the stadiums are being built on the same site that the old ones were so I don’t think there’s that transformation aspect that sometimes you get in the Olympic world, like the projects in Rio and in London.
What are your views on the news that alcohol sales are now permitted in Brazilian football stadiums once more?
People don’t fight or do stupid things exclusively because of drinking alcohol. You can have operational measures, which can deal with the people who abuse alcohol. For instance, not selling to people who are intoxicated and having stewards take people out of the stadium if they are behaving poorly. Prohibition itself wouldn’t eradicate the problem because usually people just drink outside, which was worse because they come to the stadium more intoxicated.
In your view, what will make Brazil 2014 one of the best World Cup’s in recent times?
The engagement of the population is probably going to be the thing that people remember the most about the event. Everybody is so into it and there’s such great anticipation. It’s not only about going to the stadium to watch it, but also painting the streets and decorating the houses. I think people from abroad will get that ‘wow’ impact. Here’s this World Cup party! All the people will be chanting and playing music. I think that will be the best.
For some of the cities, this is definitely the largest thing that’s ever happened to them in terms of an event. People will be enthusiastic, not only about Brazil playing, but the other matches as well. I didn’t go to South Africa, but I heard it was a good atmosphere. I think we’ll try to top that.
What methods are you working on to ensure legacy is achieved after the tournament in 2014?
Recently, a member of the sports ministry officially came on our board. So, we have this direct line of communication with the government. We’re in a position to offer advice and say “listen, you should do this because in the next 20 years you’ll be able to run the stadium in a much better way and have more possibilities of revenue”.
All the infrastructure work the government is doing was already planned, but when you have events like the Olympics and the World Cup, you can use it as a catalyst for acceleration. For instance, historically, the airports in Brazil were administrated by a state company for the first time and some of the large airports have privatized their operations, which will help in the long run. That’s the legacy.

Roberto Siviero Cropped

Roberto Siviero is the General Manager of Stadium and Venues for the 2014 World Cup.

After completing his education in the United States, Roberto started work with Corinthians Football Club, where he implemented projects to improve match day operations.

Following on from this, Roberto worked for the XV Pan-American Games, Rio 2007, looking after the Venue Operations, Spectator Services and Operational Communications. This was the largest sporting project in Brazil before the country gained the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympic Games.

After the successful Rio 2007 Games, Roberto became involved in the Rio 2016 bid for the Olympics, acting as the Finance Chapter Project Manager and later helping to deliver the Ticketing chapter of the bid book.

In addition, Roberto helped FIFA deliver the Rio 2008 Futsal World Cup as the Maracanãzinho Venue Manager.

Recently, Roberto worked as a Cluster Manager for the London 2012 Organising Committee, before becoming a consultant, helping with the Transport Planning for the 2011 Guadalajara Pan American Organising Committee.

Since August 2010, Roberto has been with the Brazilian Local Organising Committee for the World Cup, with the aim of delivering an unforgettable World Cup in 2014.

By Edward Rangsi and Marc Sibbons

 

What influenced your decision to enter into the world of sports business? 

I’ve been very enthusiastic about sports since I was young and I knew I wanted to be involved in the industry somehow. I actually started out coaching, but there was a legislation change in Brazil. There was a mandatory law, which meant football clubs were to be run like business firms. That was when I thought I could be a factor in evolving sports administration in Brazil. That’s what flicked the switch.

How did you get your big opportunity at Corinthians? 

While I was studying for my Masters in Upstate New York, Buffalo, several corporations, investment firms and sport marketing firms began striking deals with top football clubs in Brazil for the commercialisation of rights. One of such deals was struck between Corinthians and an US investment firm, who then hired a sports group from New York. I got a hold of the people in New York and went for an interview by bus, which took almost ten hours! I offered to do the internship at Corinthians, explained my case and I became the third employee of that joint venture.

Are you a Corinthians supporter?

Actually, I am a Corinthians supporter. It’s funny because I tried to mentally not show it. In Brazil, the club administrator is just a supporter with power and I didn’t want to be seen in that light, even though I was really happy inside. 

Has your experience working on the 2007 Pan American Games helped you prepare for the Brazil 2014 project? 

The experience in the Olympic world definitely helped a lot. The 2007 Pan-American Games in Rio showed the capacity that Brazil has to stage such a large event and was the showcase for the Olympic bid. I and several other people who worked on those events bring an expertise that we learnt from the problems and issues we faced. The main difference is that we have to now do it over twelve cities. It’s a really big challenge to make the same event, with the same standards, with the same organization, with the same level of people working in those twelve cities in an heterogeneous country. We’ve used what we’ve learnt in planning and we’re anticipating issues that we know will come around. 

As General Manager of Stadium & Venues for Brazil 2014, what are your job responsibilities? 

I divide it very simply into two areas; infrastructure and operations. In terms of infrastructure, we have the opportunity to take the FIFA recommendations and apply them to the legacy projects of the stadiums that are being built and refurbished. We take all those recommendations and act as a free consultant to the stadium construction teams in order to help them achieve the best legacy stadium that they can. That’s one big part of the job.

Temporary adaptations for the World Cup and the Confederations Cup are also dealt through our department. No stadium in the world is ready to host a World Cup match in its legacy state mainly because you have a demand of clients that surpasses the structure that you have. For instance, for the World Cup there can be 600-1000 journalists, depending on the stage of the competition. You cannot possibly have the adequate amount of media tribunes to hold that amount of people. So, all stadiums have to erect media centers in order to give the journalists a place to work. 

The operation side deals with the planning, together with the PMO (Project Management Office) of the World Cup Organizing Committee. We are helping them plan until we get to matchday and everybody knows what to do, how to do it and how to deliver the service to the clients. We conduct the planning of all those areas that make an event - catering, logistics, transport, security, broadcast, medical services - in order to get the integrated approach that is needed.

What are the most challenging and, equally, rewarding aspects of your job?

There is an opportunity for a big paradigm shift in terms of the level of quality of the stadiums and the level of operations in the stadiums. The challenge is to be able to help that jump because now it’s very rudimentary, particularly if you compare it to the U.S and England. That’s the biggest challenge and the biggest reward because we are able to influence such a large component of sport in Brazil. 

Are there any concerns at this stage? 

Well, there are always concerns because construction work is always hard to control; bad weather, strikes and all sorts of stuff, but we are confident that all stadiums are on track for the World Cup. For the Confederations Cup, we are pushing them to deliver six new stadiums a bit earlier than planned and the cities have responded really well. 

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