Officials said Monday that the Estadio Mane Garrincha Nacional in Brasilia, where the Confederations Cup is due to kick off in two months, "will not be officially opened until May 18 because rain has delayed the laying of the pitch," according to Anthony Boadle of REUTERS. Brasilia World Cup Secretary Claudio Monteiro said, "Without the grass it would be like opening a theater with no stage." President Dilma Rousseff was scheduled to open the new 72,000-seater stadium on Sunday, "but contractors have not been able to drain the waterlogged ground enough to lay the turf." Only four of the six Confederations Cup venues "are ready for the tournament." The $500M arena "is the most expensive of the 12 venues that will host the World Cup" (REUTERS, 4/16).
German Chancellor Angela Merkel urged Qatar "to ensure a reliable legal framework for companies bidding for the multi-million dollar infrastructure projects" for the 2022 World Cup, according to Sarah Marsh of REUTERS. Merkel: "For the engagement of German companies in Qatar, it is very important that tender procedures are fair and transparent and the legal framework is reliable." Infrastructure spending in Qatar will average more than 10% of gross domestic product ahead of the World Cup, "with activity in the construction sector likely to peak" around '15. The Qatari government has allocated 40% of its budget between now and '16 "to fund a string of mega-projects," including $5.5B for a deepwater seaport, $20B for roads and a $17.5B new airport (REUTERS, 4/15).