• Wednesday, February 28, 2024
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BusinessDay

FIFA to make Curitiba decision today

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A decision on whether Curitiba is to remain as a World Cup venue in June is expected later on Tuesday (1800 GMT).

The announcement will be made in Florianopolis by general secretary Jerome Valcke, said FIFA’s head of media Delia Fisher.

World football’s ruling body set a deadline of February 18 for a decision on the venue that is due to host four first-round games but is way behind schedule in terms of stadium construction.

Last week local media said FIFA was making contingency plans to move matches away from Curitiba because it believes the ground may not be ready in time but this was denied by soccer’s ruling body and Brazilian officials.

Officials from the southern city of Curitiba, capital of the Parana state, will be present at Tuesday’s announcement which indicates it is to be retained as a World Cup venue.

The four games due to be staged at the 41,500-capacity stadium are: Iran v Nigeria on June 16, Honduras v Ecuador on June 20, Australia v champions Spain on June 23 and Algeria v Russia on June 26.

Curitiba will not be used after the group stages.

Possible alternative venues include Porto Alegre, Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and Belo Horizonte, all of which are close enough to ensure teams who are based in the south do not have to take long flights to matches.

Six of the eight nations due to play in Curitiba will be based in Parana or neighbouring Sao Paulo state.

Officials who have worked on the stadium’s financing say it has fallen behind schedule because the club that owns the venue, Atletico Paranaense, chose to build it themselves rather than hire an established construction firm.

FINANCE TROUBLE

Paranaense have had trouble getting financing and last week the state stepped into to gain new credit of up to 65 million reias (16 million pounds).

The money will be used to finish the job, state government officials said.

The original cost of the stadium was put at 131 million reais but it has since ballooned to 319 million.

The delay is the worst of all the 12 stadiums at the World Cup, the first to take place in South America since 1978.

Five of the venues are not yet finished, even though the deadline was December 2013.

The Arena Corinthians in Sao Paulo, where the opening match will be played on June 12, will not be ready until less than two months before kickoff.

FIFA has never excluded a venue so late in the day and if it does so now it would prompt a logistical nightmare.

Brazil and FIFA would also face embarrassment and there could be a potential avalanche of lawsuits from fans who have bought tickets, hotels or flights.