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By Nelson Belen, Contributing Reporter

SÃO PAULO, BRAZIL – Local news agencies are reporting that Arena Corinthians, home stadium of Brazil’s second most popular football (soccer) club and reigning Campeonato Brasileiro Série A champions, the Corinthians, is facing severe structural damage due to a massive water leak beneath the facility. According to reports, the erosion caused by the leak is serious enough to warrant a safety risk to fans attending games at the 49,000-seat stadium.

Brazil, Brazil News, Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo
A massive water leak beneath Arena Corinthians has weakened the stadium’s structure allegedly endangering fans, photo by Edson Lopes Jr/Wikimedia Creative Commons License.

The newspaper Folha de São Paulo alleges that the water leak was discovered in June by an internal audit conducted by the club. The leak is apparently connected to the mysterious appearance of craters in the stadium parking lot in February of this year.

The damage purportedly has compromised the structural integrity of the stadium and surrounding area and could result in additional craters, sinkholes and landslides.

“It’s always worrying, everything is worrying,” expressed a concerned Roberto de Andrade, Corinthians president, to the newspaper. “We are already talking to Odebrecht to assess the situation, to tell if there are risks or if there is a problem.” De Andrade added, “[Odebrecht] built the stadium, only they can tell if there is a problem or not.”

Brazil construction giant, Odebrecht, whose CEO Marcelo Odebrecht is currently serving a nineteen-year prison sentence for his role in Lava-Jato, built Arena Corinthians, which opened in May 2014 at a cost of R$965 million.

At time of writing, Odebrecht has not officially commented on the Arena Corinthians situation. But, on Wednesday, November 2nd, the Corinthians released an official statement asserting it is investigating the stadium’s condition. “A maintenance team works daily and thoroughly checks the conditions so that the fans are in complete safety,” said the statement, “and, to date, there is no information coming from Odebrecht about any risk of landslides.”

The next scheduled match at Arena Corinthians is November 20th when the Corinthians face off against Internacional in round 36 of the Brasileirão. The reigning champions are currently in seventh place with fifty points.

Arena Corinthians is located in the Itaquera neighborhood of São Paulo, and hosted six matches during the 2014 FIFA World Cup, including the opening ceremony and the opening match between Brazil and Croatia. For the Rio 2016 Olympics, the stadium hosted ten matches during the men’s and women’s Olympic football tournament.

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Hailing from the rough and tumble streets of Queens, New York, Nelson Belen is an attorney and journalist who now calls Ipanema, Rio de Janeiro, home. He writes real estate, sports and travel for us, as well as local politics and business news.

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