Football

BBC Russian – translation

SÃO PAULO – Officials in Brazil likely breathed a big sigh of relief last night after the World Cup host nation won their first match: the day went off logistically pretty much without a hitch and Brazil largely appeared to be brimming with excitement and warming to the event.

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Anadolu Agency

SÃO PAULO – With just a day to go, São Paulo is bracing itself for Thursday’s World Cup opening ceremony and first match of the tournament between hosts Brazil and Croatia.

The 25-minute opening ceremony will showcase the host nation’s “treasures: nature, people, football,” its Belgian artistic director Daphne Cornez was quoted by local media as saying.

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Anadolu Agency

ITAQUERA, SÃO PAULO – A second final test was held on Sunday at the São Paulo stadium that will host the opening match of the World Cup on 12 June.

World Cup organisers FIFA had called for a second public test after the first, held two weeks ago, was not able to test the two temporary stands – each capable of holding 10,000 fans, bumping the stadium’s 48,000-spectator capacity to 68,000 for the World Cup.

However, Sunday’s second and last public test – a clash between Corinthians and Botafogo football clubs, which ended in a disappointing draw for the host side – drew only 40,000 fans, and only one of the two temporary stands was partially tested.

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SÃO PAULO – Four of Brazil’s top World Cup footballers met children from poor backgrounds on Tuesday at an event organised by World Cup sponsors Gillette.

(See more of my photos of Oscar, Paulinho, David Luiz and Dani Alves messing about with shaving foam.)

The event gave a group of children from the CUFA favela organisation the chance to meet and pose with the star footballers, who will make up Brazil’s World Cup squad – the Seleção.

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Anadolu Agency

SÃO PAULO – President Dilma Rousseff has “guaranteed” Brazil’s airports will be prepared to welcome visitors for the World Cup, which starts on 12 June in São Paulo.

Rousseff made the comments on her weekly Café com a Presidenta national radio programme following criticism that a number of airports which were promised to be completed for the key football tournament remain unfinished.

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Anadolu Agency

SÃO PAULO – Brazil’s President Dilma Rousseff, FC Barcelona and major sporting figures, including Brazilian forward Neymar, have lent their support to Brazilian footballer Dani Alves after a racist act at a match between Barcelona and Villarreal in Spain.

A spectator threw a banana at Alves during a Spanish Championship match, but the Barcelona defender, who also plays for the Brazilian national side, took onlookers aback by picking up the fruit and taking a bite in defiance.

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A construction worker died at the Arena São Paulo World Cup stadium on Saturday – the third death at the site.

It is the eighth fatality linked to World Cup construction work in Brazil to have occurred during the country’s preparations for the football tournament.

Arena São Paulo, Corinthians, Itaquerão Stadium. Sao Paulo's Corinthians Arena stadium will host the opening match of Brazil's World Cup as planned, says FIFA president. Photo: AFP/Miguel Schincariol.

Three workers have now died at the Arena São Paulo in World Cup construction work. Photo: AFP/Miguel Schincariol.

The worker, named as 23-year-old Fabio Hamilton da Cruz, sustained the fatal injuries after falling from height on Saturday morning while installing the flooring for the stadium’s temporary stands.

Emergency services at the scene reported the man fell around 15 metres. The construction company carrying out the work, Fast Engenharia, said he fell around eight metres, adding that he had been using all appropriate safety gear at the time of the incident.

Mr Cruz was taken to a local hospital for urgent medical intervention but later died of his injuries, the hospital confirmed to local media on Saturday afternoon.

The football team behind the stadium, Corinthians, has announced three days of mourning in connection with the incident.

The construction company that subcontracted Fast Engenharia, WDS Construções, for whom Mr Cruz worked, said it deeply regretted the death and that it was providing assistance to his family.

General Secretary of FIFA, Jérôme Valcke, said on his official Twitter accounts in English and Portuguese that he was “deeply saddened” by the death:

 

Work continues

Despite the incident, Folha de S.Paulo newspaper reported that work continued at the site on Saturday afternoon, with police cordoning off just the area directly associated with the morning’s events.

GloboNews reported that the stadium’s general construction company, Odebrecht, said that work would not be delayed further by the incident.

The stadium – known as the Arena Corinthians or Itaquerão – is far behind schedule and workers are rushing to finish construction of the venue ahead of the World Cup opener on June 12, when Brazil take on Croatia. The stadiums will also hold five other World Cup fixtures.

The 48,000-seater stadium is having approximately 20,000 additional, temporary seats added for the FIFA tournament.

It is not the first death at the São Paulo stadium, nor at the other twelve host city sites.

In November 2013 two workers died at the São Paulo stadium after a crane manoeuvring part of the stadium’s roofing into place collapsed.

Eight people have now died in relation to work at World Cup sites, including one man who died as a result of a heart attack which his family say was brought on by punishing hours at the World Cup site in Manaus.

Saturday’s tragedy comes just days after Valcke said progress at the Arena São Paulo remained a concern, with delays exacerbated by an arguments over who is responsible for paying for temporary facilities to be used only during the World Cup.

Work also continues at stadiums in Curitiba and Cuiabá.

Written for Anadolu Agency

FIFA inspection. Photo by Nacho Doce/Reuters.

FIFA and the LOC will now inspect the six stadiums not used in last year’s Confederations Cup. Photo by Nacho Doce/Reuters.

With less than three months until kick-off in Brazil, FIFA and the Brazil 2014 Local Organising Committee (LOC) began a final, week-long round of operational inspections on Thursday for stadiums hosting this year’s World Cup, even though three of the venues have yet to be completed.

After visiting the six stadiums which hosted last year’s World Cup warm-up, the Confederations Cup, in January, the final round of inspections will visit the remaining six stadiums – in São Paulo, Porto Alegre, Curitiba, Cuiabá, Manaus and Natal.

LOC stadiums operations manager Tiago Paes said the inspection tour was a final chance to “consolidate operational plans” and would allow the various World Cup departments, from security to catering, to make sure everything planned over the last few years is in place.

First on the list is São Paulo’s Arena Corinthians, also known as the Itaquerão, which will host the World Cup opener on 12 June between Brazil and Croatia.

But the 65,800-capacity stadium is now causing the biggest headache for soccer’s world governing body, as it is still at least six weeks from completion.

The Brazilian construction company working on the stadium, Odebrecht, says it will be operational by 15 April, but Corinthians, the soccer team behind the work, says some items will take longer, including some VIP boxes and the all-important big screens.

Curitiba’s Arena da Baixada and the Arena Pantanal in Cuiabá are also as yet unfinished and work on both is expected to go to the wire.

Even if the stadiums are completed on time, there are concerns that temporary structures, such as those set to house broadcast teams and sponsors, may not be.

FIFA said its secretary general, Jérôme Valcke, is expected back in Brazil next week for a “series of meetings” to discuss World Cup preparations. Inspection teams are expected to report their findings back to him on 27 March in Rio de Janeiro.

The twelve stadiums were meant to have been ready by December 2013 to meet FIFA’s deadline and allow for the venues to be tested but when the New Year arrived, six of the stadiums were not ready.

Host cities are now working round the clock to get both stadiums and associated infrastructure projects ready, or at least in some working form, for this June’s much-anticipated tournament.

Written for Anadolu Agency