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

Video Snowstorm Sweeps Northeastern US

'This is nothing like we feared it would be,' New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio says; he had warned storm could be one of worst in city history More

Millions of Displaced Nigerians Struggle With Daily Existence

Government acknowledges over a million people displaced in 2014 due to fight against Boko Haram insurgency More

Facebook: Internal Error to Blame for Outages

Temporary outage appeared to spill over and temporarily slow or block traffic to other major Internet sites More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Obama Urges Closer Economic Ties During Historic India Visiti
X
Aru Pande
January 26, 2015 9:33 PM
U.S. President Barack Obama says the United States and India must do better to capitalize on untapped potential in their economic relationship - by removing some of the roadblocks to greater trade and investment. As VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports from New Delhi, Obama spoke after participating in India’s Republic Day celebration.
Video

Video Obama Urges Closer Economic Ties During Historic India Visit

U.S. President Barack Obama says the United States and India must do better to capitalize on untapped potential in their economic relationship - by removing some of the roadblocks to greater trade and investment. As VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports from New Delhi, Obama spoke after participating in India’s Republic Day celebration.
Video

Video US, EU Threaten New Russia Sanctions Over Ukraine

U.S. President Barack Obama has blamed Russia for an attack by Ukrainian separatists that left dozens dead in the port of Mariupol and cast further doubt on the viability of last year’s cease-fire with the Kyiv government. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington.
Video

Video White House Grapples With Yemen Counterterrorism Strategy

Reports say the U.S. has carried out a drone strike on suspected militants in Yemen, the first after President Barack Obama offered reassurances the U.S. is continuing its counterterrorism operations in the country. The future of those operations has been in question following the collapse last week of Yemen’s government. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Kerry Warns Against Violence in Nigeria Election

US Secretary of State John Kerry visited Nigeria Sunday in a show of the level of concern within the U.S. and the international community over next month’s presidential election. Chris Stein reports.
Video

Video Zoo Animals Show Their Artistic Sides

The pursuit of happiness is so important, America's founding fathers put it in the Declaration of Independence. Any zookeeper will tell you animals need enrichment, just like humans do. So painting, and even music, are part of the Smithsonian National Zoo's program to keep the animals happy. VOA’s June Soh met some animal artists at the zoo in Washington. Faith Lapidus narrates.
Video

Video Worldwide Photo Workshops Empower Youth

Last September, 20 young adults from South Sudan took part in a National Geographic Photo Camp. They are among hundreds of students from around the world who have learned how to use a camera to tell the stories of the people in their communities through the powerful medium of photography. Three camp participants talked about their experiences recently on a visit to Washington. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Saudi, Yemen Developments Are Sudden Complications for Obama

The death of Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah and the collapse of Yemen’s government have cast further uncertainty on U.S. efforts to fight militants in the Middle East and also contain Iran’s influence in the region. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports on the new complications facing the Obama administration and its Middle East policy.
Video

Video Progress, Some Areas of Disagreement in Cuba Talks

U.S. and Cuban officials are reporting progress from initial talks in Havana on re-establishing diplomatic ties. U.S. Assistant Secretary of State (for Western Hemisphere Affairs) Roberta Jacobson said while there was agreement on a broad range of issues, there also are some “profound disagreements” between Washington and Havana. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins has the story.
Video

Video US, Japan Offer Lessons as Eurozone Launches Huge Stimulus

The Euro currency has fallen sharply after the European Central Bank announced a bigger-than-expected $67 billion-a-month quantitative easing program Thursday - commonly seen as a form of printing new money. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London on whether the move might rescue the eurozone economy -- and what lessons have been learned from similar programs around the world.
Video

Video Nigerian Elections Pose Concern of Potential Conflict in 'Middle Belt'

Nigeria’s north-central state of Kaduna has long been the site of fighting between Muslims and Christians as well as between people of different ethnic groups. As the February elections approach, community and religious leaders are making plans they hope will keep the streets calm after results are announced. Chris Stein reports from the state capital, Kaduna.
Video

Video As Viewership Drops, Obama Puts His Message on YouTube

Ratings reports show President Obama’s State of the Union address this week drew the lowest number of viewers for this annual speech in 15 years. White House officials anticipated this, and the president has decided to take a non-traditional approach to getting his message out. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video S. Korean Businesses Want to End Trade Restrictions With North

Business leaders in South Korea are calling for President Park Geun-hye to ease trade restrictions with North Korea that were put in place in 2010 after the sinking of a South Korean warship.Pro-business groups argue that expanding trade and investment is not only good for business, it is also good for long-term regional peace and security. VOA’s Brian Padden reports.

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

All About America

AppleAndroid

More Americas News

Mexico Says Murdered Students were Mistaken for Rival Gang

Until now, the government had said only that the students were almost certainly murdered after clashing that night with corrupt police officers
More

Twin Chicago Traffickers-Turned-Informants Sentenced

Pedro and Margarito Flores get 14-year terms in exchange for cooperating in a case against Mexican drug cartel leaders
More

Chile's Bachelet Prepares Next Phase of Education Reform

After eight months of intense debate, Lower House approves first part of multi-pronged reform, which includes end to profits at state-subsidized schools
More

Fidel Castro Appears to Lend Support to Cuba Talks with US

Castro said his long-standing hostility to the US did not mean 'rejection of a peaceful solution'
More

Argentine President Plans to Dissolve Spy Agency

Suspicions abound that rogue agents were behind the mysterious death of a state prosecutor investigating the 1994 bombing of a Jewish community center
More

Peru's Congress Repeals Labor Reform Law

Move comes after thousands took to the streets to protest legislation that cut benefits for young workers, part of reforms aimed at reviving the economy
More