News / Americas

FIFA Keeps Curitiba as World Cup Venue Despite Delays

General view of the interior of Arena da Baixada soccer stadium as it is being built to host matches of the 2014 World Cup in Curitiba, Brazil, Feb. 17, 2014.
General view of the interior of Arena da Baixada soccer stadium as it is being built to host matches of the 2014 World Cup in Curitiba, Brazil, Feb. 17, 2014.
Reuters
FIFA will stick with plans to hold World Cup matches in the Brazilian city of Curitiba, officials said on Tuesday, backing down from a threat to drop the host city due to delayed work on a stadium.
 
FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke said the decision followed signs of progress on construction, financial guarantees and commitments by local organizers. Officials said the stadium should now be ready by May 15, less than a month before the tournament starts.
 
“There was no other decision we could take but to keep Curitiba in,” Valcke told a news conference in southern Brazil. “They understood the pressure we put on them.”
 
Even as Valcke expressed renewed confidence, the severity of his ultimatum made clear that patience is running out at soccer's world governing body, which has warned for months that work was critically behind schedule at stadiums across Brazil.
 
Curitiba, where world champions Spain will play a first-round match, is the most extreme case of the myriad delays plaguing host cities. Four other stadiums, including the venue for the prestigious opening match in Sao Paulo, also missed a December deadline for completion and are racing to finish work.
 
If FIFA had made good on its threat to exclude Curitiba from the tournament, it would have been a major embarrassment for Brazil and President Dilma Rousseff, who has promised “the World Cup of all World Cups” and touted benefits for a dozen cities chosen to host games.
 
A smoothly run tournament could help boost her popularity before she seeks reelection in October.
 
The run-up to the World Cup, however, has been an increasingly frantic effort to finish stadiums, expand airports and prepare cities for hundreds of thousands of foreign fans.
 
Work at several airports is even more delayed than the stadiums and at least one terminal, in the city of Fortaleza, will be substituted with a temporary canvas structure.
 
Five cities hosting matches will not complete the public transportation projects they had promised.
 
Complicating matters, Brazil has been besieged by periodic street protests since last June, with many demonstrators railing against the World Cup as a waste of money that would be better spent on education, healthcare and public transport.
 
Under pressure to ensure that mass protests do not disrupt the tournament, Brazilian officials are spying on protest groups and debating stricter legislation aimed at containing street demonstrations.
 
Four matches are scheduled to take place at the stadium in Curitiba: Iran v. Nigeria on June 16, Honduras v. Ecuador on June 20, Australia v. Spain on June 23 and Algeria v. Russia on June 26. The stadium will not be used after the opening group stage.
 
Falling Behind
 
The irony of Curitiba's delicate position is that the city has long been considered a model of Brazilian efficiency, with thoughtful urban design and well-developed public transport.
 
While other host cities have built world-class stadiums from scratch despite a lack of top-tier local teams, Curitiba is renovating an existing stadium owned by Atletico Paranaense. Built in 1999, the Arena da Baixada was until recently the most modern soccer venue in Brazil.
 
Officials following the stadium's progress say the trouble started when the club decided to handle the job itself instead of bringing in one of a handful of major construction firms that dominate big infrastructure projects in Brazil.
 
Atletico Paranaense have struggled to get financing for the job and blamed slow progress on tight cash flow. The cost of the renovation has also climbed to some 319 million reais ($133 million) from an initial estimate of 131 million reais.
 
A state development bank stepped in last week with a credit line to help finish the job. FIFA officials said they would also be taking up management of the stadium for the next two months along with local government.
 
Organizers are planning two test matches in coming months, before the finished stadium is delivered in the middle of May.
 
Elsewhere in Brazil, delays have worried FIFA without reaching the level of alarm in Curitiba. After Valcke's visit to Porto Alegre this week, he said work on temporary structures needed to pick up but there was no risk to its host city status.
 
In Cuiaba, where Reuters reported that a fire had caused far more damage to the unfinished stadium than officials acknowledged, Valcke said he had requested more information from an independent technical team.
 
“We have got that information and we are confident the stadium is safe,” he said at Tuesday's news conference.
 
Local officials at the conference were confident about progress and constructive about the role of Valcke, who faced a firestorm in 2012 over his suggestion that Brazil needed “a kick up the backside” to speed up its World Cup preparations.
 
“It was good that Valcke came and pulled our ears,” said Reginaldo Cordeiro, Curitiba's official running preparations for the tournament. “It's good for us to wake up.”
 
But Valcke said his decision did not depend on Curitiba.
 
“We have had strong support from the Brazilian government. That's the reason Curitiba is still a World Cup city,” he said. “Without federal support, today it would not still be a World Cup city.”

You May Like

Tired of Waiting, South Africans Demand Change ‘Now’

With chronic poverty and lack of basic services largely fueling recent xenophobic attacks, many in Rainbow Nation say it’s time for government to act More

Challenges Ahead for China's Development Plans in Pakistan

Planned $46 billion in energy and infrastructure investments in Pakistan are aimed at transforming the country into a regional hub for trade and investment More

Audio 'Forbidden City' Revisits Little Known Era of Asian-American Entertainment

Little-known chapter of entertainment history captured in 80s documentary is revisited in new digitally remastered format and book More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populationsi
X
April 24, 2015 10:13 PM
A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populations

A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Data Servers Could Heat Private Homes

As every computer owner knows, when their machines run a complex program they get pretty hot. In fact, cooling the processors can be expensive, especially when you're dealing with huge banks of computer servers. But what if that energy could heat private homes? VOA’s George Putic reports that a Dutch energy firm aims to do just that.
Video

Video Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festival

Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video UN Confronts Threat of Young Radicals

The radicalization and recruitment of young people into Islamist extremist groups has become a growing challenge for governments worldwide. On Thursday, the U.N. Security Council heard from experts on the issue, which has become a potent threat to international peace and security. VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports.
Video

Video Growing Numbers of Turks Discover Armenian Ancestry

In a climate of improved tolerance, growing numbers of people in Turkey are discovering their grandmothers were Armenian. Hundreds of thousands of Armenians escaped the mass deportations and slaughter of the early 1900's by forced conversion to Islam. Or, Armenian children were taken in by Turkish families and assimilated. Now their stories are increasingly being heard. Dorian Jones reports from Istanbul that the revelations are viewed as an important step.
Video

Video Migrants Trek Through Western Balkans to Reach EU

Migrants from Africa and other places are finding different routes into the European Union in search of a better life. The Associated Press followed one clandestine group to document their trek through the western Balkans to Hungary. Zlatica Hoke reports that the migrants started using that route about four years ago. Since then, it has become the second-most popular path into Western Europe, after the option of sailing from North Africa to Italy.
Video

Video TIME Magazine Honors Activists, Pioneers Seen as Influential

TIME Magazine has released its list of celebrities, leaders and activists, whom it deems the world’s “most influential” in 2015. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports from New York.
Video

Video US Businesses See Cuba as New Frontier

The Obama administration's opening toward Cuba is giving U.S. companies hope they'll be able to do business in Cuba despite the continuation of the U.S. economic embargo against the communist nation. Some American companies have been able to export some products to Cuba, but the recent lifting of Cuba's terrorism designation could relax other restrictions. As VOA's Daniela Schrier reports, corporate heavy hitters are lining up to head across the Florida Straits - though experts urge caution.
Video

Video Kenya Launches Police Recruitment Drive After Terror Attacks

Kenya launched a major police recruitment drive this week as part of a large-scale effort to boost security following a recent spate of terror attacks. VOA’s Gabe Joselow reports that allegations of corruption in the process are raising old concerns about the integrity of Kenya’s security forces.
Video

Video Japan, China in Race for Asia High-Speed Rail Projects

A lucrative competition is underway in Asia for billions of dollars in high-speed rail projects. Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia Thailand and Vietnam are among the countries planning to move onto the fast track. They are negotiating with Japan and the upstart Chinese who are locked in a duel to revolutionize transportation across Asia. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok has details.
Video

Video Scientists: Mosquitoes Attracted By Our Genes

Some people always seem to get bitten by mosquitoes more than others. Now, scientists have proved that is really the case - and they say it’s all because of genes. It’s hoped the research might lead to new preventative treatments for diseases like malaria, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Bible Museum Coming to Washington DC

Washington is the center of American political power and also home to some of the nation’s most visited museums. A new one that will showcase the Bible has skeptics questioning the motives of its conservative Christian funders. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Armenia and Politics of Word 'Genocide'

A century ago this April, hundreds of thousands of Armenians of the Turkish Ottoman empire were deported and massacred, and their culture erased from their traditional lands. While broadly accepted by the U.N. and at least 20 countries as “genocide”, the United States and Turkey have resisted using that word to describe the atrocities that stretched from 1915 to 1923. But Armenians have never forgotten.
Video

Video Afghan First Lady Pledges No Roll Back on Women's Rights

Afghan First Lady Rula Ghani, named one of Time's 100 Most Influential, says women should take part in talks with Taliban. VOA's Rokhsar Azamee has more from Kabul.
Video

Video New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Pain

From Boulder, Colorado, Shelley Schlender reports that new methods for mapping pain in the brain are providing validation for chronic pain and might someday guide better treatment.

VOA Blogs

More Americas News

Colorful Macaws Bring Beauty to Chaotic Caracas

Long-tailed birds color Venezuelan capital's sky, giving its 5 million residents a moment of quiet respite from noise and crime
More

Colombia's ELN Rebels: Peace Talks Near, Rule Out Jail

Commander's comments come as pressure mounts for President Santos to conclude peace talks with far larger FARC group and to show progress with ELN
More

Photogallery Chile Volcano Still Puffing; Flights Canceled in Argentina

Calbuco, which erupted Wednesday without warning, continues to spew ash, smoke
More

Former Spy Master Flees Argentina Amid Threats

Antonio Stiuso contends government is trying to sully his reputation following death of prosecutor Alberto Nisman
More

Chile, Argentina Cancel Flights as Volcanic Ash Cloud Spreads

Argentina's meteorology service forecast ash cloud could reach La Pampa; more than 4,000 people have been evacuated from immediate area
More

Deals Extend Russia's Energy Cooperation With Argentina

Accords underscore Moscow's effort to enhance South American ties since coming under Western sanctions over Ukraine crisis
More