Situation at World Cup stadium in Curitiba ‘a mess’

Brazilian sports minister admits to safety concerns for visiting fans next summer

Brazilian sports minister   Aldo Rebelo at a press conference at Costa do Sauipe, Bahia, today. Photograph: Marcus Brandt/EPA

Brazilian sports minister Aldo Rebelo at a press conference at Costa do Sauipe, Bahia, today. Photograph: Marcus Brandt/EPA

Thu, Dec 5, 2013, 17:43

Concern over the readiness of some World Cup stadiums has intensified on the eve of the finals draw. While Brazil’s deputy sports minister Luis Fernandes attempted to quell mounting concerns by announcing that four of the six stadiums still unfinished would be ready to hand over to Fifa in January, there is a question mark over the Arena da Baixada in Curitiba.

Jerome Valcke, Fifa’s secretary general who is responsible for delivering the World Cup, said on Tuesday that three stadiums – in Curitiba, Sao Paulo and Cuiaba – would miss the deadline of being finished by the end of the year.

The Corinthians Arena in Sao Paulo has been delayed by the accident last week in which two construction workers were while the Arena Pantanal in Cuiabá has also been a longstanding concern.

Fifa sources said the situation in Curitiba was “a mess” and suggested that it could be March or later before the stadium, which is due to stage four matches and will seat 41,456, will be ready.

That will leave organisers with little time to install facilities and could force them to put in temporary toilets and food outlets. With the draw on Friday and tickets on sale, insiders admit there is “no plan B” but insist they will not compromise on security.

Fifa and the Brazilian authorities are awaiting a report on the situation in Sao Paulo but remain confident the stadium will be finished in time to host the World Cup’s opening match on June 12th.

Aldo Rebelo, Brazil’s sports minister, gave a long and rambling speech in which he appeared to make light of the delays. “There is always a bride and a groom at a wedding and 100 per cent of the time the bride is always late but I have never known a wedding not to happen because of it,” he said.

Fernandes was forced to clarify Rebelo’s comments and insisted stadiums in Natal, Manaus, Porto Alegre and Cuiaba were ready or almost ready. “Because of the Christmas and New Year holidays, the stadiums will be opened in January,” he said. “In all, 10 of the stadiums are now ready, leaving just Curitiba and Sao Paulo which won’t be ready much before February.”

Rebelo also admitted to safety concerns but said transport hubs would be safer for fans than anywhere in Europe or the US. “The issue of violence, we know it exists. We do not have the same safety conditions on the streets as in European cities,” he said, “but the airports, bus stations and subways will be safer than any other environment in the US or Europe.”

He said there were specific risks in cities such as Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo and Salvador. “We do have cases of violence in our cities, violence with social origins, common crime, robberies. This is something we are trying to fight against,” he said. “Nobody will feel comfortable with this violence, with the massed robberies, the rapes, that happen but this is a horrible fact. We are trying to contain this violence. We know our country may be harmed when this violence is seen by the world, as would any country where violence exists.”

He added: “We want to be scrutinised and are sure that this will show more positives than negatives. We are a country of joy and tolerance, proud of our mixed-race heritage.”

Providing an update on ticket sales, Fifa’s marketing director Thierry Weil confirmed each country would receive an allocation of eight per cent of the tickets for every match they are involved in.

The allocation is in addition to tickets bought through Fifa’s central ticketing process and in the Football Association’s case the tickets will be distributed through the England fans club.

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