(Bloomberg) — The mayor of Sao Paulo, South America’s largest city, proposed that the day of the national team’s next World Cup game be declared a holiday in an effort to avoid a repeat of the traffic jams that caused fans and soccer star Pele to miss matches yesterday.
Mayor Fernando Haddad said he will seek approval from the city assembly today to declare a public holiday on June 23, when Brazil plays Cameroon in Brasilia and The Netherlands faces Chile in Sao Paulo. The bill would allow him to declare further holidays during the World Cup.
Even with many schools closed and a partial bank holiday yesterday, fans rushing to get to a TV screen caused traffic jams snaking 302 kilometers (188 miles) through Sao Paulo an hour before the Brazil-Mexico match in Fortaleza, according to the city’s traffic company CET. Normally, traffic totals just 38 kilometers at that time of day.
Infrastructure in many Brazilian cities has been stretched by rapid urbanization. Air travel nearly tripled and the country’s fleet of motor vehicles doubled over a decade.
Pele, who scored more goals for Brazil than any other player and was voted by FIFA the best player of the 20th century, was among those who missed the start of the game because of the standstill on roads. Trapped in traffic on his way to a Sao Paulo screening of the game, he said he was forced to listen to the national team play on radio for the first time since 1950.
“I suffered a lot,” Pele told Globo TV. “I followed the first half of the game in the car.”