Brazil to miss FIFA deadline for World Cup stadiums

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Maracana Stadium

SAO PAULO, BRAZIL (BDCi) — More than half a million tickets have been sold for the Confederations Cup in June, but host nation Brazil has yet to finish the main stadiums to be used in the dress rehearsal for the 2014 World Cup.

On the eve of yet another FIFA deadline, Brazil has delivered only three of the six venues for the eight-nation warmup starting in two months.

World soccer’s governing body FIFA had demanded that all six stadiums be completed by last December but construction delays forced the deadline to be extended to April 15. Even with that extra time, all the stadiums will not be ready.

The cities of Belo Horizonte, Fortaleza and Salvador have compiled with the deadline and delivered their stadiums, while Recife will open its stadium on Sunday, one day ahead of the FIFA deadline.

The biggest problem is with Rio’s Maracana stadium, Brazil’s largest stadium built for the 1950 World Cup. The arena is scheduled to host the final match of the Confederations Cup on June 30 but is still undergoing finishing touches to a 400 million refurbishment, it’s third costly overhaul in 12 years.

At best, it looks like the Confederations Cup will be played at stadiums that are usable but not finished. One worry is that Brazilian officials will declare the works complete and open the stadiums to the public even though they are not ready, a common practice in Brazil.

Officials in Rio opened a massive concert hall and music complex in 2008 only to undertake another four years of work because the original construction was so shoddy.

Rio’s Engenhao stadium opened in 2007 for the Pan American Games, was closed last month because of fears the roof could blow off during high winds.

The grass was so poor at the brand new Gremio Arena in Porto Alegre, a stadium that will not be used for the World Cup, that the club had to play elsewhere to let it mend.

FIFA requires that the new stadiums be tested twice, preferably with soccer games. At Maracana, a first test will be behind closed doors on April 27 when local World Cup organizing committee members Ronaldo and Bebeto try out the field playing with a group of friends.

The big test will come June 2, just two weeks before the Confederations Cup kicks off, when Brazil plays a friendly against England.

Source: sports.yahoo.com

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