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

Multimedia Social Media Documenting, Not Driving, Hong Kong Protests

Unlike Arab Spring uprisings, pro-democracy protestors in Hong Kong aren't relying on Twitter and Facebook to organize, but social media still plays a role More

Analysis: Occupy Central Not Exactly Hong Kong’s Tiananmen

VOA's former Hong Kong, Beijing correspondent compares and contrasts 1989 Tiananmen Square protest with what is now happening in Hong Kong More

Bambari Hospital a Lone Place of Help in Violence-Plagued CAR

Only establishment still functioning in CAR's second city is main hospital More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plainsi
X
October 01, 2014 10:45 AM
It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plains

It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests Draw New Supporters on National Holiday

On the 65th anniversary of the founding of Communist China, Hong Kong protesters are hoping to stage the largest pro-democracy demonstration since the 1989 Tiananmen protests. VOA's Brian Padden visited one of the protest sites mid-day, when the atmosphere was calm and where the supporters were enthusiastic about joining what they are calling the umbrella revolution.
Video

Video India's PM Continues First US Visit

India's prime minister is on his first visit to Washington, to strengthen political and economic ties between the world's oldest and the world biggest democracies. He came to the U.S. capital from New York, the first stop on his five-day visit to the country that denied him an entry visa in the past. From Washington, Zlatica Hoke reports Modi seemed most focused on attracting foreign investment and trade to increase job opportunities for his people.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid

More Americas News

Mexican Soldiers Face Murder Charges in 22 Deaths

Three soldiers charged with homicide in death of 22 suspected drug gang members who prosecutors allege were executed
More

Poll: Record Number of Mexicans Crime Victims in 2013

While government data shows murder rate has fallen in past 2 years, crimes such as kidnapping and extortion, which affect wider swath of the population, rise
More

OAS Asks Members to Take In Guantanamo Detainees

Organization of American States issues appeal for member countries to take in detainees from US military prison
More

Recession Looms Over Venezuela, Official Data Under Wraps

Empty store shelves, closed factory gates and idled construction projects tell their own story
More

US Judge Holds Argentina in Contempt Over Bond Payment Plan

In rare move, District Judge Thomas Griesa says country taking 'illegal' steps to evade his orders in longstanding dispute with hedge funds over defaulted debt
More

Brazil's Rousseff Extends Lead Over Silva in Elections

President Dilma Rousseff's expected victory margin over closest rival Marina Silva has surged to 9 percentage points
More