Dave Schoonaert ’89 gives a firsthand look at World Cup Brazil

Posted by Centre News in News 26 Jun 2014

VLUU L200  / Samsung L200

While the world focuses on today’s FIFA World Cup match between Team USA and Germany, some of the behind-the-scenes work is thanks to Dave Schoonaert ’89. Dave and his family — wife Michelle and children Rachel Mae and Joshua — call Frankfurt, Germany home, but Dave travels the world as an event technology consultant for Eurotech Global Sports. His work currently has him supporting software solutions at the FIFA World Cup in Brazil. The World Cup began on June 12, but Dave’s preparations for the event started long ago. [Above: the public square in Manaus, Brazil where Dave Schoonaert ’89 watched the Brazil-Portugal game on a large screen TV]

“The initial work began in late 2010,” Dave says. “My first trip to Brazil was in July 2011 for the Preliminary Draw. I returned in June 2013 for the FIFA Confederations Cup, a FIFA tournament comprised of eight teams at six of the 12 World Cup venues. That provided a good opportunity for all the different operational areas to identify processes that need to be refined and issues that need to be addressed in advance of the World Cup.”


Dave Schoonaert ’89 holds the World Cup trophy in 2005


Dave Schoonaert ’89 holds the World Cup trophy in 2005

Eurotech and Dave’s project team is involved with the event management software used for all FIFA events including, among others, the FIFA Women’s World Cup, U-17 and U-20 World Cups (men’s and women’s), Club World Cup, Beach Soccer and Futsal.

For the World Cup in Brazil, Dave’s project team is responsible for managing the business requirements, development/coding, testing, implementation and support of the software. The software supports the following operational areas:

· Accreditation credentials that identify individuals and the areas they are allowed to access. Over the four-year World Cup event cycle, over 250,000 people applied for accreditation, went through a security check and approval process, and almost 400,000 accreditation passes/badges were printed.

· Volunteer and Staff Management: Without volunteers an event the size of the World Cup would not be possible. The application process for Brazil started in 2012 and almost 200,000 individuals applied to be a volunteer. After a screening and selection process this number was reduced to between 12,000 and 15,000, and those individuals then needed to be assigned positions, jobs, training and shifts according to their skills, experience, preferences and availability.

· Ground Transportation: The Local Organizing Committee (LOC) Transportation department is responsible for managing a fleet of vehicles (1,100+) and providing ground transportation for the FIFA and LOC delegation to over 350 locations in 12 venue cities, a very complex and time-sensitive operation. After just four weeks of transport operations, the LOC in Brazil received over 20,000 transport requests for delegates.

· Team Services: The schedules and services needed to support the 32 teams in the World Cup are carefully managed, coordinated and communicated across many different groups and functional areas. This includes the initial team arrival in Brazil, travel and transport to and from team base camps, stadiums, venue hotels, training sessions, press conferences, meetings and eventually the team departure from Brazil. Just during the first stage of the tournament there were nearly 2,000 different schedule entries for the 32 teams.

· Space and Materials Planning: A vast array of IT equipment is required at many different event locations (stadiums, hotels, airports, transport depots, etc.). Software is needed to define and manage the equipment catalogue, logical planning, physical planning and deployment of all this equipment.

According to Dave, all of this is just a small portion of the overall World Cup IT solution that must be delivered for the event. And although the World Cup in Brazil is still in progress, preparations are already in motions for the next tournament four years from now.

“We’ve started doing some initial planning and work for the FIFA World Cup Russia 2018,” Dave says. “I’ll travel to St. Petersburg for the Preliminary Draw in early July 2015.”

With all the work his job entails, it doesn’t leave much time to watch the game action.

“We [work] from a central command center that is housed within the International Broadcast Centre (IBC), which is the main hub for all things TV and IT related,” Dave continues. “For Brazil, the IBC is located in Rio de Janeiro at the RioCentro exhibition center which is inland, nowhere near the Maracana Stadium, and nothing like the Copacabana Beach scenes you see if you are watching any of ESPN’s World Cup studio coverage. There are TVs in the command center so we can keep one eye on the TV as we work.

“I do get a day or two off now and then, and going to matches depends on whether I purchased a ticket or not (free tickets are not part of the job description).

“The most interesting experience so far has been travelling to Manaus for the USA-Portugal match. Manaus is a four-hour flight from Rio and is a city of 2 million in the heart of the Amazon where everything and everyone must arrive by plane or by boat. Unfortunately, I only had 48 hours there, but I really enjoyed experiencing a different part of Brazil (and not having to think about work for 2 days).

“In addition to soaking in the great atmosphere around and in the stadium for the USA-Portugal match, I was able to watch the Brazil-Cameroon match on TV in a large public square in Manaus and enjoy the music, dancing and general celebration which followed Brazil’s win.”

While Dave says that the World Cup Korea/Japan in 2002 offered him the greatest set of obstacles, every one has been unique.

“I have great memories and experiences of all six World Cups that I’ve been involved with,” he says. “All events and all host countries present their own set of unique challenges. One specific challenge presented in Brazil is the size of the country in terms of the distances between the 12 venue cities and multiple time zones. Similar to the United States (which hosted the World Cup in 1994) air travel between the venues is required and direct flights can be as long as four hours.”

by Cindy Long