AP News

Cup organizers: Add workers at delayed stadium


SAO PAULO (AP) — World Cup organizers want to increase the number of workers at the delayed stadium in Curitiba that is at risk of being dropped.

A FIFA consultant and a technical team from the local World Cup organizing committee made the assessment after a visit to Arena da Baixada on Thursday, an official in the southern city said.

Reginaldo Cordeiro told The Associated Press the technical team was happy with the improvements made at the construction site, but advised local officials that the workforce must be increased soon to give the city a better chance of hosting its four scheduled matches in soccer's showcase event that begins in less than five months.

"It was a good visit because they saw that things progressed," Cordeiro, the city's urban planning secretary, said in a telephone interview. "But at the same time it wasn't that good because they asked for an increase in the workforce to speed up the construction."

FIFA Secretary General Jerome Valcke visited Curitiba last month and told local officials they have until Feb. 18 to show the city will be able to finish the stadium in time for the World Cup.

Charles Botta, who compiles regular reports to FIFA's top management after visiting the World Cup stadiums, was among those who said the addition of more workers would be ideal to make sure the venue can remain a host city, according to Cordeiro. State and city engineers also participated in Thursday's meeting and agreed.

Dropping Curitiba as a host city would be an embarrassment to Brazil and a major headache for FIFA, which has already sold more than one million tickets for the tournament.

Brazilian club Atletico Paranaense, which is building the stadium, said it can add workers only if it gets a federal loan, according to Cordeiro. A meeting is scheduled for Friday to try to guarantee the needed financing.

Brazil's Sports Minister Aldo Rebelo visited Curitiba this week and said everything would be done to try to guarantee the loan.

"There is a need for more workers so there is a need for the loan," Cordeiro said.

There were nearly 900 workers at the construction site when Valcke visited, he said, and since then the number has increased to about 1,100. With the loan, it could be possible to have nearly 1,400 on site in the next two weeks.

Since Valcke's visit, the pitch installation has been finalized and nearly 15,000 seats have been installed, Cordeiro said. The roof is expected to be completed in the next few weeks.

The Arena da Baixada is scheduled to host Iran-Nigeria on June 16, Australia-Spain on June 23, Algeria-Russia on June 26, and Honduras-Ecuador on June 30.

Brazil promised to finish all 12 World Cup stadiums by the end of last year as wanted by FIFA, but five remain under construction.

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Tales Azzoni on Twitter: http://twitter.com/tazzoni


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