By Robbie Blakeley, Senior Contributing Reporter
SÂO PAULO, BRAZIL – Brazil’s largest city, São Paulo, has run into yet more problems as it races to be ready for the 2014 World Cup. Already playing catch-up to the other eleven host cities, fresh financial problems could hold up building work even further and the city has until October 30th to secure R$400 million to continue the project.
After facing a multitude of delays when the Morumbí Stadium was deemed not suitable to host World Cup matches, the brand new Itaquerão Stadium, which will become the new home of current Libertadores champions Corinthians, finally got underway May 30th last year.
Now current CBF director Andres Sanchez, who was a director at Corinthians when the stadium began to be built, claimed work would have to stop if the money was not released by the end of next month. Any hindrance could spell potential disaster for the city, with the arena scheduled to host the tournament’s opening game in June 2014.
São Paulo has already had the threat of omission from the World Cup hanging over the metropolis, and with some corners calling for the number of host cities to be cut from twelve to ten, the sheer volume of trouble could cause FIFA to act. Such a move would then pave the way for Rio and the Maracanã to make another bid to host the opening ceremony and match.
As of now, Rio de Janeiro will only see the Seleção (Brazil national team) play in the World Cup if they make it to the finals. Whilst some Brazilians remain confident, many Cariocas remain disappointed by the scheduling and the city would jump at the chance to host the opening match as well.
For São Paulo the news is especially disheartening after such promising progress was made. At the time of writing, the Itaquerão is already fifty percent complete despite such a lengthy list of setbacks.
Only two weeks ago the Local Organizing Committee (LOC) deemed themselves satisfied with the state of the arena and the speed at which the work was being completed, aided in no small part by a substantial lack of rain in São Paulo over recent months. Should this current financial issue be resolved, it is estimated the Itaquerão will be finished in fifteen months, at the beginning of 2014.
Meanwhile, Brazilian Minister for Sport Aldo Rebelo wants the help of volunteers to help make up for lost time, not only in the Paulista city but across the country. While 22,000 volunteers have already signed up to help with both the Confederations and World Cups Rebelo is hopeful of getting another 100,000 helpers.
“It is necessary to increase this number and we are working to include another 100,000 volunteers across Brazil,” he said. This would bring the number to over 120,000, the biggest number of volunteers in World Cup history, and there is a huge number of things that need to be done both before and during the two tournaments.
The bulk of volunteer work will be concentrated in stadiums and airports but people will also be needed at tourist and transport points. Successful applicants will receive basic training from FIFA before being handed their responsibilities.