By Robbie Blakeley, Senior Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – The stadiums to be used during this summer’s FIFA World Cup are all finally close to completion and set to be delivered to FIFA, world football’s governing body. Test events have been held at the Estádio Beira-Rio in Porto Alegre and Arena Pantanal in Cuiabá, while the Arena Corinthians in São Paulo is reportedly 98 percent complete.
Following the death of a worker at the site a little over a week ago – the eighth to die at a World Cup site and tenth in total on all football stadium building projects in Brazil – FIFA president Sepp Blatter was quick to deny any responsibility for the tragic accident. He also criticized, once again, the delays on the project which was supposed to be finished on December 31st.
Last Friday, Mr. Blatter commented on the accident which cost Fabio Hamilton da Cruz his life when he fell eight meters from the stadium, “In Brazil, we have a problem with the stadium in São Paulo,” he said. “There was an accident in which one person died, but when you are working on a construction two meters or higher, it is necessary to offer security to the workers. They didn’t do this.”
According to Corinthians the stadium should be able to receive its first test event in the middle of May, one month before Brazil host Croatia on June 12th in the World Cup opener. Meanwhile, with the pitch already laid, Corinthians players are already using it as a training ground.
There is better news in the south of the country and in Porto Alegre, where Internacional’s Beira-Rio home has caused numerous problems since work began in March 2012. On Sunday, the first game was played at the reformed ground, which is set to host five games during the World Cup.
Inter hosted Uruguayan club Peñarol and came away with a 2-1 win, with Argentine playmaker Andres d’Alessandro grabbing a brace. The re-inauguration came exactly 45 years after the stadium’s first opening, when Inter beat Portuguese club Benfica, also by a 2-1 scoreline.
While the stadium is now ready, there remain some issues to finalize. Responsibility for the payment of installation of temporary structures for international press needs to be decided in the coming weeks.
Group games confirmed at the Beira-Rio are France versus Honduras, on June 15th Netherlands versus Australia, on June 18th, South Korea versus Iran, on June 22nd and Nigeria versus Argentina, on June 25th. A second round match will take place on June 30th.
There has also been major progress in the Central-Western state of Cuiabá, with the Arena Pantanal passing its first test event last week. Last week, Mixto and Santos locked horns at the brand new stadium in the Copa do Brasil.
The event was considered such a success that Santos directors have requested to play more games at the Pantanal. World Cup secretary Maurício Guimarães confirmed the offer from the Paulista club.
“Santos directors have informed me and the city governor [Silval Barbosa] that they have an interest in playing at least three more games here at the Arena Pantanal in the Campeonato Brasileiro throughout the year. We are flattered,” Mr. Guimaraães said.