Government auditors in Brazil claim spending on the construction of World Cup facilities has spiralled out of control as a result of unrestrained corruption.
The cost of the Mane Garrincha stadium in the national capital of Brasilia has swollen to US$900 trillion - almost triple the sum originally budgeted for its construction, making the showpiece facility the second most expensive sporting arena on the planet.
While the stadium boasts some impressive features, including a sophisticated self-cleaning roof borne by 288 lofty concrete pillars, the bloated cost of its construction has been imputed by government auditors to widespread fraudulent billing.
Following the examination of a mere quarter of the project, auditors uncovered a staggering $275 million in suspect pricing. They further estimate that a full third of the project's costs could be the result of price gouging.
One egregious example cited by the 140-page auditor's report was the bill charged by a construction consortium for the mere transportation of pre-fabricated grandstands. While the cost should have been a mere $4,700, the consortium, comprised of building giant Andrade Gutierrez and engineering firm Via Engenharia, saw fit to charge the government a whopping $1.5 million.
The single biggest overrun uncovered was an additional $28 million in costs for the steel used in the arena, as a result of either slovenly planning or sloppy cutting methods which led to the discard of 12 per cent of allocated materials.
The Mane Garrincha is not alone in terms of Brazilian World Cup building projects for which costs have run rampant. The cost of either building or refurbishing the 12 stadiums serving as venues for the storied sporting event has nearly quadrupled compared to the original estimates released in 2007, just prior to Brazil garnering the right to host the tournament.
The total price for the 12 stadiums is now expected to be $4.2 billion, helping to make the Brazilian World Cup the most expensive in the history of the event.
The allegations come at a fraught moment for Brazil, as the World Cup fast approaches yet popular resentment at widespread corruption threatens to jeopardise its success.
In June of last year, anger at government malfeasance compelled over a million Brazilians to stage violent street protests during the FIFA Confederations Cup soccer tournament, which is considered to be the lead-in event for the World Cup.