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With "just over a week to go before the World Cup kicks off, Brazil is racing to get its stadiums, airports, roads and phone networks ready" before hundreds of thousands of football fans "descend on the country," according to Brad Haynes of REUTERS. Airports in "nearly all 12 host cities are swarmed with construction workers laying parking lots, installing check-in counters and kicking up clouds of dust with long-delayed expansions." Workers at several stadiums are "still struggling to set up cell phone networks that can withstand tens of thousands of smartphones." Temporary bleachers in Sao Paulo's stadium, which will host the opening game on June 12, have "still not been tested under the full weight of fans." Only about "half the projects promised for the World Cup have been delivered and many of those are only partly done, souring the mood" in a country obsessed with football but "increasingly skeptical about the benefits of hosting the show." The "late rush means most of the critical infrastructure will be in place and few doubt" that the first World Cup in Brazil since 1950 will be "one to remember" (REUTERS, 6/4).
Former Liverpool player Jamie Carragher on Tuesday inaugurated an int'l football academy in Pune, India, according to the PTI. The Liverpool FC-DSK Shivajians int'l football academy is a "sprawling state-of-the-art residential school." Carragher: "I was at Liverpool’s academy for six years before I went on to play in the first team for 17 years. I know firsthand how important it is to have the right development as a young player to fulfil your potential." The academy, a collaboration between Liverpool and Pune-based realty firm DSK, is built to "global standards and consists of a residential complex with 840 air conditioned and fully furnished single rooms." It also features "two full-size pitches, one 4G synthetic turf and one natural grass, and an outdoor swimming pool along with practice areas, lecture theatre, classrooms, changing rooms, a gymnasium, canteen, convenience store and entertainment facilities" (PTI, 6/3).
Valencian Rafael Vizcaíno "is the inventor of a pioneering prototype of padded football goals aiming to avoid dangerous accidents during play," according to Kristin Suleng of EL PAIS. Vizcaíno "had been concerned that goals make playing football a high-risk sport." After "seven years of investigation," the Spanish Football League (LFP) unanimously approved in April of the "installation of goals of the future at La Liga and second division fields, a decision waiting to be ratified by club presidents." Vizcaíno: "A lot of kids practice every day on football or handball fields, and a blow can have very serious consequences on their growth, as their brains are not fully developed. One cannot forget that every year, a notable quantity of kids die from accidents with goals. It is urgent to avoid this." A study by Universidad Politécnica de Valencia (IBV) showed a 50% reduction in impact when falling and hitting the new goals. The IBV also ran tests that determined that the new goals produce the same rebounds when a ball hits the post. The author of the IBV study said, "The result has been that the new goals have the same rebound as the traditional ones, in a way that there is no obstacle in using these professionally." Vizcaíno said, "It will not be long before a rule arrives that prohibits goals made of iron and wood where children and professionals worth millions play." Vizcaíno added that "he has spent from his own pocket" €30,000 ($40,900) on the project (EL PAIS, 6/4).
Cricket Australia has "embarked on a plan to import soil from the subcontinent that will be used to create low-bouncing, spinning tracks that will allow batsmen and bowlers to prepare at home for tours of India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh." CA High Performance Manager Pat Howard said on Wednesday that "while the curators at the National Cricket Centre in Brisbane had done their best in recent years to kill the grass and recreate Indian-style wickets at the academy, there was still too much bounce" (THE AUSTRALIAN, 6/5). ... League One side Yeovil has "reluctantly withdrawn their planning application for a supermarket on their Huish Park site." Yeovil had "hoped to build the unit on training pitches near the stadium in a bid to raise funds to convert their Copse Road End stand into an all-seater stand." The club had been in negotiations with the local council for "over three years but a club statement admitted it will not be possible for them to gain 'detailed support at council level' and they are now working on an alternative scheme" (PA, 6/4).