By Robbie Blakeley, Senior Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Preparations for the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil were dealt a fresh blow this past weekend with the death of a worker at the Arena Corinthians site in São Paulo. Fabio Hamilton da Cruz, 23, was seriously injured when he fell eight meters to the ground last Saturday afternoon, although some media outlets are describing the fall as from fifteen meters.
The construction worker was rushed to the Santa Marcelina hospital but died shortly after from head injuries. Mr. da Cruz had been working on the installation of 20,000 temporary seats that will be removed at the end of the tournament.
According to an Odebrecht employee who spoke to O Globo, Mr. da Cruz had been trying to connect safety equipment to a cable when he lost his balance on the southern side of the grounds. After the incident the surrounding area was cordoned off, but work continued in other sections of the stadium.
Mr. da Cruz is the third man to lose his life at the São Paulo building site and the eighth stadium death nationwide. The other two fatalities at the São Paulo site occurred last year on November 27th when a 500 tonne crane fell onto the roof on the eastern side of the arena. Fábio Luiz Pereira, 42, and Ronaldo Oliveira dos Santos, 44, were killed in the accident.
The Arena Corinthians will host six games over the course of this summer’s World Cup competition, including Brazil’s opening game against Croatia on June 12th. It is one of three stadiums that is still not completed and there is mounting pressure from FIFA to make sure they are all ready before June’s kick-off.
All must pass safety tests before being approved for the World Cup. At the time of writing the Arena Corinthians should be delivered to FIFA at the beginning of May, which is over four months behind the originally imposed deadline of December 31, 2013.
The other two stadiums that are still unfinished are the Arena Pantanal in Cuiabá and the Arena da Baixada in Curitiba. Like the Arena Corinthians, these two stadiums have already missed their initial FIFA deadlines and they are now expected to be ready either at the end of April or the end of May.
In addition to the three deaths at the Arena Corinthians, four construction workers have died at the Arena Amazônia in Manaus, where England take on Italy on June 14th. Three of these fatalities were caused by construction accidents and one worker died after having a heart attack.
The third stadium that has also been the site of a fatality is the the Estádio Mané Garrincha in Brasília, where 21-year-old José de Oliveira Rodrigues recently lost his life.
These tragic deaths do not help ease the critics of the event, which have continued to protest in major cities across Brazil. Still, in February, the Ministry for Sport told The Rio Times, “The federal government believes in the efforts of those responsible for building the World Cup stadiums and trusts all will be delivered on time. Seven stadiums have already been completed and the others are in the final stages of building works.”