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Volume 6 No. 213
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Brazil Continues To Wonder If World Cup Infrastructure Will Be Ready

In '07, after FIFA President Sepp Blatter "confirmed Brazil's second World Cup hosting gig," even the least skeptical sectors of the Brazilian media "knew a huge task awaited despite having seven years to get ready," according to Fernando Duarte of ESPN. Now, with the final draw just days away, time "has proved their fears are far from unfounded." Itaquerao Stadium, the venue where the first kick of the 2014 tournament will take place June 12, is "in question following the construction accident Nov. 27 that killed two men." Stadiums, however, "were never the main reason for concern." When saluting the return of the World Cup, newspaper O Globo "published headlines" saying that all the country needed were "roads, airports, hotels, trains ..." It "still does." An analysis of the most recent official report on the state of the urban mobility works by Brazilian news portal shows that "19 out of 55 projects will not be ready in time for the tournament." 1970 World Cup Champion Carlos Alberto said, "It's a missed opportunity to make a few things better for the Brazilian public. I am in no doubt the tournament will be a huge party, but the improvements to infrastructure are not going well." As Friday's draw approaches, FIFA and the organizing committee "are hoping that the sporting agenda will start gaining some momentum, instead of the social one currently in the spotlight." It is "wishful thinking." There also are "more worrying news on further stadium delays: But while few people in Brazil doubt the arenas will be ready, the feeling that the World Cup will fail to deliver on its promises is getting stronger" (ESPN, 12/3).

STADIUM 'A MESS': In London, Owen Gibson reported "there is a question mark" over the Arena da Baixada in Curitiba. FIFA sources said the situation in Curitiba was "a mess" and suggested that it could be March or later before the stadium, which is due to stage four matches and will seat 41,456, "will be ready." That will leave organizers with "little time to install facilities and could force them to put in temporary toilets and food outlets." With the draw on Friday and tickets on sale, insiders admit there is "no plan B" but insist that they "will not compromise on security" (GUARDIAN, 12/4).

DUTCH UPSET: XINHUA reported the Dutch football association KNVB "wants an explanation" from FIFA for "changing the procedure for the World Cup draw." KNVB Dir Bert van Oostveen "was surprised by the announced procedure" (XINHUA, 12/4).

WATER BREAK: REUTERS' Eleanor Biles reported Italy coach Cesare Prandelli "has called for the introduction of drink breaks" during the World Cup finals in Brazil to "counter the debilitating effects of heat and humidity at venues in the tropical northeast." FIFA has "already rejected calls to reconsider its decision to schedule noon kick-offs." However, there "remains widespread concern" that teams playing in the northeastern cities of Fortaleza, Natal, Salvador and Recife "will be subjected to punishing conditions," with temperatures soaring above 30 degrees Celsius (REUTERS, 12/4).

QATAR ON HAND: THE NATIONAL's Gary Meenaghan reported a small group of representatives from Qatar are in Brazil, "at a lavish retreat" 90km from Salvador, to observe this weekend’s World Cup finals draw and to "take back to Doha vital knowledge required to host its own football showpiece in eight more years" (THE NATIONAL, 12/4).

CALL FOR UNITY: INSIDE WORLD FOOTBALL's Andrew Warshaw wrote the prospect of football re-unification between Greek and Turkish Cypriots, an item on the agenda at the two-day FIFA exec committee meeting, "has received another timely boost." All 42 clubs belonging to the Cyprus Turkish FA in the north of the island have "unanimously approved the historic arrangement signed by the two sides at FIFA headquarters last month" (INSIDE WORLD FOOTBALL, 12/4).