TODAY.AZ / Sports

'No stadium, no match' - FIFA issues threat to Brazil

23 January 2014 [14:10] - TODAY.AZ
There are less than five months to go until the World Cup begins in Brazil but the clock is ticking for another of the global football fiesta's host cities.

Curitiba, the capital of the southern state of Parana, is so behind with its stadium renovations that FIFA could strip it of its host status.

On a trip to inspect the venue Tuesday, Jerome Valcke, secretary general of the sport's governing body, told reporters: "You cannot organize games if you do not have a stadium -- that's obvious.

"If you don't have a stadium then you cannot have four games taking place here. So that's why again there is this emergency situation."

FIFA has now given builders in the city of Curitiba a new deadline of February 18 to show a marked improvement in the stadium.

The Arena de Baixada venue, home to Atletico Paranaense, is being expanded for the World Cup with new seats added alongside the pitch and capacity raised to 40,000.

It is understood to now be 90% complete but has progressed little since the end of November, when it was 88% done.

Work on the stadium was also halted in October when a local judge intervened because of concerns that workers were at serious risk of being injured.

"We are not expecting the stadium to be ready on February 18," Valcke continued.

"What we are expecting is to see a progress and to understand where we are going and that is what is being put in place today."

Luis Fernandes, executive secretary of Brazil's Ministry of Sport, agreed with Valcke's criticism, saying: "If the pace of work at the stadium in Curitiba were to be kept as it is, then it would not be ready to host the World Cup.

"With this is mind, we agreed that we would take steps to guarantee that the arena would be ready to host the games scheduled to be held there."

Those steps include "scaling up" work on the stadium and an injection of an extra $16.5 million from the Parana government's development fund.

World Cup holder Spain is due to play the first match at the stadium against Australia on June 26.

A total of 12 venues scattered throughout Brazil are due to host World Cup games this summer but many of them have been beset with problems.

Five workers have died on World Cup stadium construction sites, the latest the death of Marcleudo de Melo Ferreira, who fell from the roof of a stadium in the Amazonian city of Manaus in December.

Many of the stadiums are behind with their construction deadlines and there have been concerns that Brazil's transport network could create major logistical problems.

Preparations for the World Cup have also been controversial in Brazil.

Protesters are outraged at what they consider lavish spending on the World Cup as well as the 2016 Olympic Games.

Brazil has not hosted the World Cup since 1950 -- when it lost 2-1 in the deciding match to Uruguay.

The 2014 tournament is due to open on June 12 with Brazil taking on Croatia in Sao Paulo's Arena Corinthians -- a stadium which has had its own renovation issues.


/CNN/

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