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Brazil is famous for tiny bikinis and a national passion for all things sports and fitness. Perhaps that's why it's so shocking the country is faced with an obesity problem - one grown so large that the 2014 World Cup stadiums being built for this summer's Confederations Cup will include seating for fans with extra wide bottoms.
A statement posted on the Brazilian government's World Cup website reads in part, "From the total of 63,903 seats, 1,675 are reserved for obese people, or people with disabilities.
"This number corresponds to 2.4 percent of the stadium's capacity, which is more than the minimum requirement of 1 percent anticipated by the World Cup General Bill and administrative rule No 205 of the Ministry of Sport that regulates the issue. At the Castelão, 335 seats are reserved for wheel chair users, 1,220 for people with reduced mobility and 120 for obese people," the statement said.
Brazilian World Cup soccer stadiums are adding new seating to accommodate the obese. Credit: Gernot Hensel/EPA
According to the U.K. newspaper The Sun, the stadium seats will be double-wide and accommodate up to 560 pounds. In case the extra large dimensions aren't enough of a giveaway, the seats will also be identified by their bright blue color.
The price tag for all that extra room will bloated to twice the cost of regular-sized seating.
Despite its reputation as a country filled with svelte, toned and tanned citizens, the average Brazilian silhouette has ballooned in size. Forty-eight percent of Brazilian adult women and 50 percent of men are now considered overweight, according to a survey done by the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics (IBGE.)
One in seven Brazilian adults is classified as obese. That's a spike of nearly 10 percent since 2004 and more the double the obesity rate recorded just four decades ago.
As one of the largest producers of sugar in the world, part of the Brazil's weight problem stems from an insatiable appetite for sweets, especially in liquid form, said Barry Popkin, a W. R. Kenan Jr. distinguished professor in the school of public health at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill.
"More than 18 percent of their calories come from beverages, which is only slightly lower than the U.S.," he said. "Sugar in food is just an empty calorie, but when added to coffee, soda and other drinks, it adds calories but doesn't reduce consumption."
Popkin has written several papers based on Brazil's first-ever national diet survey, completed two years ago. Besides a thirst for sweetened beverages, he also noted that Brazilians snack more and eat more processed foods than ever before, and they watch more TV and exercise less than at any point in their history despite a government campaign to get them up and moving.
Health experts from the World Health Organization (WHO) and other international health agencies have warned if the trend continued, Brazilian obesity rates could match those of the U.S. as soon as 2022.
Even now, Americans haven't cornered the market on obesity. The U.S. only ranks eighth among the world's fattest nations.
The distinction for fattest country belongs to the tiny Caribbean island of Nauru where, according to WHO statistics, a whopping 95 percent of inhabitants have a "pre-obese" Body Mass Index of 25 or higher.
The average Nauruan's BMI is 34 - a label that puts Nauruans in WHO's "Class I" category of obesity. Class III, or super-obese, is the highest level of obesity and reserved for those with a BMI of 40 or higher. A BMI between 18.5 and 24.99 is considered healthy.
The U.S. does win the crown for the greatest rise in BMI of all developed nations between 1980 and the present.
With more than 70 percent of residents classified as overweight or obese, Mexico is the heaviest Latin American nation, Popkin's studies show. And despite diet books extolling the virtues of a French diet, Popkin found that Scandinavian countries have the lowest number of overweight people of all the high-income countries; just under ten percent of Scandinavians are classified as overweight. The title of thinnest nation in the low-income category belongs to Chad, where fewer than five percent of people are overweight.
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Published: 15:46 BST, 13 October 2017 | Updated: 20:09 BST, 13 October 2017
Bruce Arena has resigned as the U.S. Men's National Soccer Team head coach following his country's ignominious failure to qualifying for the 2018 World Cup.
A 2-1 defeat at the hands of 99th-ranked Trinidad & Tobago, coupled with Panama's victory over Costa Rica,eliminated the States from qualifying earlier this week without the possibility of a playoff.
This ends Arena's second stint as head coach of the USMNT, which began in November when Jurgen Klinsmann was fired in November.
Bruce Arena has resigned as head coach of the USA following their World Cup failureRELATED ARTICLES Share this article
He confirmed the news in a statement released by US Soccer on Friday.
'No excuses,' his statement read. 'We didn't get the job done, and I accept responsibility.
'This certainly is a major setback for the senior men's national team program, and questions rightly should be asked about how we can improve,' he continued. 'No doubt this process already has started and will continue so that U.S. Soccer can progress.'
A former Cornell goalkeeper, Arena made one appearance as a player for the USMNT before becoming a coach and ultimately taking over the U.S. program in 1998. In 2002, the U.S. reached the quarterfinals of the World Cup where the team ultimately lost to Germany.
The U.S. was ranked as high as fourth in the world under Arena in 2006 - the highest the team has ever been ranked - but after the team finished last in its group at the 2006 World Cup, Arena fell out of favor and was replaced by Bob Bradley in 2008.
Between his two stints with the USMNT, Arena coached two MLS teams: The New York Red Bulls and Los Angeles Galaxy.
Arena replaced the German legend Klinsmann last November after the U.S. suffered a pair of ugly losses during World Cup qualifying. He went 10-2-6 over his second tenure with the U.S. team.
The U.S. entered their final qualifier in Trinidad with a World Cup place uncertain for the first time since 1989. The Americans have made each of the last seven World Cups.
Matt Besler cuts a dejected figure after the United States' shock defeat to Trinidad
Christian Pulisic scored for the States but it proved too little, too late in Couva
Home defeats at the hands of Mexico last November and Costa Rica left the Americans little margin for error.
They only needed a draw against Trinidad - the tiny island nation ranked 99th in the world who had lost their six previous qualifiers.
However, they conceded twice in the first half to lose 2-1 and slip from third place into fifth in the six-nation final round of CONCACAF qualifying.
Arena, who previously served as USMNT coach from 1998 and 2006, oversaw a total of 148 matches as , winning 81 times.
Recently, former U.S. Soccer star and current ESPN analyst Taylor Twellman declared that he had lost faith in the national program and demanded major changes.
'This is an utter embarrassment, with the amount of money that is in Major League Soccer and in this sport, you can't get a draw against Trinidad?' an exasperated Twellman asked after the U.S. was eliminated following its 2-1 loss to Trinidad and Tobago on Tuesday night. 'You don't deserve to go to the World Cup.'
U.S. Soccer president Sunil Gulati is also likely on the hot seat.BRUCE ARENA'S FULL STATEMENT
'It is the greatest privilege for any coach to manage their country's national Team, and as I leave that role today I am honoured and grateful to have had that opportunity twice in my career.
'When I took the job last November, I knew there was a great challenge ahead, probably more than most people could appreciate. Everyone involved in the program gave everything they had for the last 11 months and, in the end, we came up short. No excuses. We didn't get the job done, and I accept responsibility.
'This certainly is a major setback for the senior men's national Team program, and questions rightly should be asked about how we can improve. No doubt this process already has started and will continue so that US Soccer can progress.
'Having said that, it also is important to recognise the tremendous growth and accomplishments we have achieved over the past two decades in all areas, including player development, coaching education and a stable domestic professional league.
'This work is ongoing and despite the result in Trinidad, the sport is on the right path. By working together, I am confident soccer in this country will continue to grow in the years and decades ahead.
'Obviously the biggest disappointment is for our fans. As a person involved in the sport for more than 40 years, to see how support for soccer in the United States has grown is incredibly gratifying. I believe I speak for everyone involved in the game in thanking all of you for your passion and commitment, and I hope you maintain your steadfast support of US Soccer.
'While this is a difficult time, I maintain a fierce belief that we are heading in the right direction. I believe in the American player and the American coach, and with our combined efforts the future remains bright.
'I don't know what the future holds for me, but I can say this from the bottom of my heart: from the high of reaching the quarter-finals of the 2002 World Cup to the low of a few days ago; I have appreciated every minute of being a part of this program.'
Arena is pictured on the sidelines during his side's defeat by Trinidad & TobagoRELATED ARTICLES Share this article Share or comment on this article Most watched Sport videos MOST READ SPORT
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COUVA, Trinidad (AP) — When soccer holds its world’s fair in Russia next June, the American pavilion will be glaringly absent.
A bumbling, stumbling, tumbling World Cup qualifying campaign ended Tuesday night with a calamitous 2-1 loss to already eliminated Trinidad and Tobago, the 99th-ranked nation in the world, when merely a tie was necessary to eke out the final automatic World Cup berth from one of soccer’s weakest regions.
“Unacceptable,” tweeted former Health and Human Services Secretary Donna Shalala, a U.S. Soccer Federation board member. “For us in USSoccer more than a wake-up call. Time for revolution. Need long term plan that is smart.”
After American soccer’s Waterloo, the fallout almost surely will lead to a new coach and possibly a new USSF head. There also figure to be calls for a reexamination of the player development structure, from youth teams through academies designed with the hope of producing elite prospects.
“There is no denying that this is a setback for all of us involved with the game in our country,” Major League Soccer said in a statement.
New York Cosmos owner Rocco Commisso, chairman of the lower-level North American Soccer League that has sued the USSF, called for federation President Sunil Gulati to resign along with board members and senior administrators he put in place.
“In the almost 12 years during which Sunil Gulati has been the USSF’s president, little or nothing has been done to enhance our prospects,” Commisso said in a statement. “The leadership of U.S. Soccer has failed all of its stakeholders: players, fans, sponsors and those of us who have invested in professional soccer. Getting back on track requires fundamental change in the structure and management of the sport in our country, starting with a change in the federation’s leadership.”
While fans fulminated over the front office, the next national team coach must instigate a ruthless roster purge. The Tim Howard/Clint Dempsey/Michael Bradley era is over, and pretty much any player older than 26 will be past his past his prime when the World Cup in Qatar kicks off in November 2022. The Americans won’t even play a competitive match for nearly two years, until the 2019 CONCACAF Gold Cup.
By then, Christian Pulisic, at 19 already the top American, should be surrounded with other players on the rise, such as 19-year-old midfielder Weston Mckennie, who has started Schalke’s last three games in the German Bundesliga. Haji Wright, a 19-year-old winger loaned from Schalke to second-division Sandhausen, is another top prospect along with forward Josh Sargent, who agreed last month to sign with Werder Bremen on his 18th birthday in February
Matt Miazga and Cameron Carter-Vickers should be tested in defense as the team reorients to 2022.
A shocked Gulati was measured in his reaction.
“You don’t have wholesale changes based on the ball being 2 inches wide or 2 inches in,” he said. “We will look at everything, obviously, and all of our programs, both the national team and all the development stuff. But we’ve got a lot of pieces in place that we think are very good and have been coming along.”
The U.S. returned to the World Cup in 1990 after a 40-year absence, and soccer grew at an exponential rate, helped by the U.S. hosting the tournament in 1994. Major League Soccer launched two years later; cable television and the Internet brought top European clubs to American televisions and later laptops and cell phones.
European clubs discovered there was huge money to be made by playing preseason exhibitions across the pond, growing the sport’s audience.
American sponsors started treating soccer like a major sport, if not at the level of the NFL, baseball and the NBA, at least as prominent as the NHL, golf and tennis.
Still, the national team peaked with its quarterfinal appearance at the 2002 World Cup. The U.S. failed to qualify for the 2012 and 2016 men’s Olympic soccer tournaments, a generational talent gap evident when a creaky defense repeatedly broke down during qualifying. There were no young goalkeepers considered challengers to Howard and Brad Guzan.
“This has been coming for a while. I think it’s just kind of been building up,” former U.S. defender Marcelo Balboa said Wednesday.
Elected head of the USSF in 2006 after a quarter-century helping build the national team and federation, Gulati has not said whether he will seek a fourth and final four-year term in February.
More immediately, a decision must be made on whether the national team plays exhibitions during the November fixture dates and who will coach. Bruce Arena, brought back when Jurgen Klinsmann was fired last November after a 0-2 start in the hexagonal, figures to depart later this year or next.
Among the possible American candidates are Tab Ramos, coach of the U.S. under-20 team since 2011; Peter Vermes, coach of Sporting Kansas City since 2009; and Huddersfield manager David Wagner. Atlanta United’s Tata Martino, a former coach of Argentina and Barcelona, is among the foreigners who could be considered. An interim coach is a possibility.
Surprisingly, Arena said no major shifts need to be made in the federation’s operations.
“There’s nothing wrong with what we’re doing,” he maintained. “Certainly I think as our league continues to grow, it benefits the national team program. We have some good young players coming up. Nothing has to change. To make any kind of crazy changes I think would be foolish. We’re building a good system in our professional league. We have players playing abroad of some quality. There’s enough there.”
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