Rio Olympics may add new soccer venues over pitch worries
RIO DE JANEIRO — One or two more cities may be chosen to host 2016 Olympic football matches due to worries about over-used pitches, the head of the Rio de Janeiro Games’ organizing committee said on Thursday.
Carlos Nuzman said there were concerns that the group phase, which is slated for two matches daily at all five of the current venues, could prove too punishing for the fields.
The committee was in talks with world football governing body FIFA about adding venues, and a decision was likely next month.
"There will be rain, the pitches will have holes, you’re going to need recovery time, and there’s a general understanding that there are risks," Nuzman said.
He said the Rio 2016 organizing committee and FIFA favored choosing a city that hosted the World Cup last year. All five cities already down for Olympic play — Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo, Belo Horizonte, Salvador and the capital, Brasilia — hosted World Cup matches last June-July.
"There are lots of cities that are interested," Nuzman said.
Brazil was widely criticized for over-reaching in using 12 stadiums in the World Cup, when FIFA required only eight. Some stadiums were in cities that have no first-division football teams, and some look like becoming white elephants.
A report this week in the Folha de S.Paulo newspaper put at over $3 billion the total cost of the World Cup stadiums, with more than 90 percent of funding coming from government coffers. When the World Cup was awarded to Brazil, then-President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva said all the stadiums would be privately financed.