Blatter: Mid-April finish for damaged WCup stadium

The damaged stadium in Sao Paulo won’t hold its first match

until less than two months before the World Cup is to open

there.

FIFA President Sepp Blatter set a new deadline Thursday

following a fatal construction accident at Arena Corinthians last

week. He told a news conference that April 14 or 15 is the expected

delivery date.

”For the time being there is no Plan B,” Blatter said,

answering speculation FIFA might seek a replacement stadium or move

matches to other cities despite many tickets already being

sold.

On June 12, the repaired stadium is to host the sold-out opening

match featuring host nation Brazil, following a lavish opening

ceremony watched by some heads of state among the invited

guests.

FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke later said the mid-April

target was for the first match to test the stadium operations.

The governing body has had to compromise on its original demand

that all 12 World Cup stadiums be delivered by the end of 2013 to

allow for a minimum three test events.

Arena Corinthians was set to meet its construction deadline

before the Nov. 27 accident. Two construction workers died when a

crane crashed and damaged part of the stadium. Work has resumed

after a three-day period of mourning at the site.

Two more stadiums will be construction sites into 2014. The

southern city of Curitiba and the wetlands city of Cuiaba will not

deliver their stadiums until late January or February.

Blatter announced a FIFA gift to Brazil of up to $100 million in

a World Cup legacy for investment in soccer development, as it gave

South Africa after the 2010 tournament.

FIFA brought forward the announcement with an initial $20

million guarantee, plus more depending on the financial success of

the tournament, which is expected to generate at least $4 billion

in commercial revenue for the ruling body.

”We hope everybody is working well and at the end when we

leave, as in South Africa there will be $100 million or even more

in this trust,” Blatter said.

FIFA will also give the World Cup winner $35 million in prize

money, and all 32 competing nations will get at least $8

million.

The figures were agreed to Thursday by FIFA’s executive

committee as part of a $576 million pot of payments. It includes a

previously agreed $70 million to clubs worldwide whose players are

selected and $100 million in a long-term insurance policy to cover

salaries of players injured on national team duty.

At the 2010 World Cup, champion Spain earned $30 million from a

$348 million teams’ prize money pot.

FIFA pays the money to the 32 national federations, which will

each get an additional $1.5 million to prepare for the June 12-July

13 tournament in Brazil.

The German federation has promised all 23 players a $407,000

bonus for winning the title.