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Brazil Speeds Up Venue Construction After Nearly Getting Axed From World Cup

  • Zlatica Hoke

Many in Brazil sighed with relief after international football officials this week approved a construction delay for a Curitiba city stadium. Last month, FIFA (Fédération Internationale de Football Association) threatened to remove Curitiba from the 2014 World Cup for failing to meet a series of construction deadlines. The stadium is now due for completion in mid-May, about a month before the start of the world's most important football event.

Nearly 1,400 workers are now working around the clock to finish the stadium on time. Electrician Francisco Santos said the FIFA ultimatum was a wake-up call for Brazilian organizers. “They have now opened their eyes and they are employing enough people," he said. "Now it will work.”

The Geneva-based football federation determined Tuesday that Curitiba is capable of finishing on time the infrastructure necessary for the matches it will host. Lawyer Nelsson Gomez said the decision saves Brazil's national pride. “It would have been a humiliation if Curitiba had been dropped.”

The country's vice minister of sports, Luis Fernandes, was more concerned about preventing the financial loss Brazil would have suffered if Curitiba had lost its status as a World Cup venue.

"It's a victory, in quotation marks. It is a victory as we turned around a situation which was heading towards the axing of a host city. And we think it's very important that the World Cup takes place in Brazil's 12 host cities. Because beyond the joy of the competition, it brings development and economic potential to the country's 12 regional centers. So on this aspect, yes, it was a victory," explained Fernandes. "Ideally, it would not have come to this with Curitiba and the stadium would be already ready."

Others want the construction to end for a different reason.

“We want them to put back in order everything that they got dirty. That’s what I want,” said Deshanine Dominone who lives near the stadium.

Many Brazilians are not happy about the multi-billion-dollar cost of hosting the World Cup and two years later the Olympic Games.

But former player Ronaldo, a member of the local World Cup organizing committee, said the benefits will be worth it. "It's our job to show to this small minority against the World Cup, that the World Cup will be a big celebration, a big business, leaving hundreds of legacies to our people," he said.

Curitiba venue Arena da Baixada will seat 41,000 spectators. Officials have promised non-stop parties throughout Brazil during the World Cup.