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

Photogallery Early Nigeria Results Show Buhari Leading; Tampering Concerns Mount

One local group monitoring polls is concerned politicians might use security agencies to 'fiddle with the election collation process' at state level More

UN: 7,300 Civilians Killed in Boko Haram Insurgency

A senior UN humanitarian official tells the United Nations Security Council 1,000 people have been killed this year More

Turkish President Warns Iran About Trying to Dominate Middle East

Warning comes amid growing concerns inside Turkey that it will be sucked into a sectarian conflict with its neighbor More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadistsi
X
Greg Flakus
March 30, 2015 6:48 PM
At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadists

At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video With Coalition Airstrikes, Iraq Entering 'Last Page' of IS Battle

American warplanes joined Iraq's battle against the so-called 'Islamic State' in northern Iraq late Wednesday, as Iraqi ground troops launched a massive assault on Tikrit. Analysts say the offensive could take the coalition a step further towards Mosul, the largest city held by Islamic State forces. Others say it could also deepen already-dangerous sectarian tensions in the region. VOA's Heather Murdock has more from Cairo.
Video

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Tourism is a multi-billion dollar industry in the Philippines. Close to five million foreign visitors traveled there last year, perhaps lured by the country’s tropical beaches. But Jason Strother reports from Manila that the country hopes to entice more travelers to stay indoors and spend money inside new casinos.
Video

Video Civilian Casualties Push Men to Join Rebels in Ukraine

The continued fighting in eastern Ukraine and the shelling of civilian neighborhoods seem to be pushing more men to join the separatist fighters. Many of the new recruits are residents of Ukraine made bitter by new grievances, as well as old. VOA's Patrick Wells reports.
Video

Video Islamic State Prisoners Talk of Curiosity, God, Regret

Islamic State fighter, a prisoner of Kurdish YPG forces, asked his family asking for forgiveness: "I destroyed myself and I destroyed them along with me." The Syrian youth was one of two detainees who spoke to VOA’s Kurdish Service about the path they chose; their names have been changed and identifying details obscured. VOA's Zana Omer reports.
Video

Video Germanwings Findings Raise Issue of Psychological Testing for Pilots

More is being discovered about the co-pilot in the crash of Germanwings Flight 9525 in the French Alps. Investigators say he was hiding a medical condition, raising questions about the mental qualifications of pilots. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.
Video

Video Hi-tech Motorbike Helmet's Goal: Improve Road Safety

In cities with heavily congested traffic, people can get around much faster on a motorcycle than in a car. But a rider who is not sure of his route may have to stop to look at the map or consult a GPS. A Russian start-up company is working to make navigation easier for motorcyclists. Designers at Moscow-based LiveMap are developing a smart helmet with a built-in navigation system, head-mounted display and voice recognition. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video DOJ: Illinois National Guard Soldier Tried to Join ISIS

U.S. federal law enforcement agents arrested two suburban Chicago men accused of trying to join ISIS overseas, while also plotting attacks in the United States. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports from the Midwest state of Illinois, one of those arrested is a soldier of the Illinois National Guard.
Video

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Traditional push-rim wheelchairs create a lot of stress for arm, shoulder and neck muscles and joints. A redesigned chair, based on readily available bicycle technology, radically increases mobility while reducing the physical effort. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.

VOA Blogs

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

More Americas News

US State Dept Official: Cuba Aims to Ramp Up Internet Access

Cuba, a few decades late to the Internet era, is committed to getting the web into 50 percent of its households by 2020, a senior official said on Monday
More

Video Gamma Ray Observatory to Open Soon in Mexico

World's largest gamma ray observatory will be situated high in Sierra Negra Mountain to discover secrets about black holes and supernovas
More

Drownings of Migrants Along Rio Grande Increase

Increased patrols are pushing immigrants, desperate to avoid detection, to choose more dangerous and remote crossings into South Texas, leading to surge in drownings
More

US, Cuba Teams Discuss Telecommunications Issues

US delegation visited Cuba this week as the two nations continued efforts to restore diplomatic relations broken over 50 years ago
More

Egyptian Court Adjourns Trial of Al Jazeera Journalists to April 22

Two journalists are charged with aiding a terrorist organization, a reference to the Muslim Brotherhood, which Egypt banned following 2013 army takeover
More

Rio Exhibition Dramatizes Olympian Bay Cleanup Task

Display highlights problem of trash in Guanabara Bay, where sailing, windsurfing events are to take place in next Summer Games
More