Three more venues for next year’s World Cup will be delivered past FIFA’s now redundant December 31 deadline, Brazilian Sports Minister Aldo Rebelo said Wednesday.
World football’s governing body FIFA Tuesday backtracked after months of insisting it would not extend the deadline for all 12 Brazilian host arenas to be completed.
FIFA president Sepp Blatter said Sao Paulo’s Arena Corinthians would get more time following last week’s crane accident in which two construction workers died.
FIFA also gave more time for Cuiaba and Curitiba as both venues struggle to complete work.
Rebelo said stadiums in Porto Alegre, Manaus and Natal would also be handed over after the original December 31 deadline owing, not to laggardly construction but to the agenda of President Dilma Rousseff.
“There are delays but they will not be significant. What matters is that we are ready to go in January,” Rebelo said in the north-eastern Bahia state resort of Costa do Sauipe.
He partly attributed the delay to Rousseff’s crowded Christmas and New Year agenda.
He added that Curitiba had suffered from funding problems – but would be ready in late January rather than late February as stated by FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke Tuesday – while Porto Alegre was experiencing overlay construction delays.
“But these stadiums will be delivered with a good time for the pre-World Cup tests,” said Rebelo, who said Rousseff would oversee delivery of the six as yet incomplete venues.
He added that the presidential agenda required Rousseff to hold a pre-Christmas luncheon for homeless people in Sao Paulo and then she would be tied up with New Year celebrations.
“There is nothing to compromise the delivery of the stadium” at Curitiba, Rebelo insisted, adding he had talked to governors and agreed a postponement to late January.
“We need to do FIFA test events – accessibility, safety, electrical, food courts, entrances and exits. But in January, we will definitely have time to hold all these test events,” Rebelo said.
He joked that the World Cup was rather like a marriage.
“At 100 per cent of weddings I’ve seen the bride arrived late. I’ve never seen one arrive on time – but never saw a marriage that didn’t go ahead,” said Rebelo laconically.
Rebelo’s ministerial executive secretary, Luis Fernandes, clarified the timescale issue, saying four of the six outstanding venues would be delivered in January and that Curitiba will be “totally complete” in February with Sao Paulo dependent on the outcome of the enquiry into last week’s fatal accident.
“Four stadiums (Manaus, Cuiaba, Natal and Porto Alegre) will have their test events in January, Curitiba will be totally complete in February and we are waiting on the outcome of the technical report into Sao Paulo,” Fernandes told a news conference.
Valcke had described Curitiba as being the stadium with “the most difficulties” and hence would not be delivered “before the end of February 2014.”