Workers go on strike at delayed World Cup stadium
Workers went on strike over late pay at one of the stadiums
enduring the longest delays ahead of the World Cup in Brazil,
officials said Saturday.
The work stoppage happened in the southern city of Curitiba,
where world champion Spain is expected to be based during
football’s showcase event next year.
Curitiba Mayor Gustavo Fruet said about one-third of the
stadium’s 1,200 workers took part in the strike that lasted up to
three days this week. He said protesting workers blocked a city
avenue for about an hour on Friday.
”There was a delay of the payment and there was a strike,” he
The deadline for Curitiba’s stadium has already been pushed back
to mid-February because of construction delays that officials said
resulted from belated financing. The stadium belongs to Brazilian
first division club Atletico Paranaense and is undergoing extensive
renovation to host matches in next year’s World Cup.
Mauro Holzmann, the club’s marketing and communications chief,
downplayed the labor unrest.
He claimed that only 150 workers were involved and they only
downed tools for two hours on Friday. He also said their pay was
just one day late and that the labor contractor has since been
paid. He didn’t know, however, if the contractor had relayed the
payment to the workers.
”It won’t happen again. It was just a little
misunderstanding,” Holzmann said.
A group of workers taking a break in the stadium said they were
owed one month’s pay. They said they would down tools again next
week if the money promised to them doesn’t arrive.
The Arena da Baixada will host four World Cup matches, including
Australia vs. Spain on June 23. The Curitiba stadium is expected to
hold its first test game in February, two months after the original
deadline established by FIFA for stadium delivery.
Officials said it took longer than expected to put together the
stadium’s complex financing.
”It was just red tape, Brazilian bureaucracy,” Holzmann said.
”A state development bank loan originally expected in June 2012
was seven months late.”
Atletico Paranaense, which finished third in this year’s
Brazilian league, is funding one third of the renovation costs,
with the rest coming from state and city governments. The
renovation was expected to cost about $80 million but is now
budgeted at almost $115 million.
The pitch has not been laid or even flattened, with mounds of
earth and gravel still in place. Most of the seats haven’t been
installed, the roof isn’t finished and VIP boxes have no glass or
Organizers recently gave up on installing a retractable roof
that was in the original design. FIFA made the request to remove
the roof from the World Cup project because it would not be
finished in time and would delay the overall construction.
In early October, a Brazilian labor judge halted work at the
Arena da Baixada for nearly a week because of safety concerns.
In the World Cup stadium in the jungle city of Manaus, where on
Saturday a worker fell to his death and another died of an apparent
heart attack outside the venue, a local union threatened to start a
strike on Monday to complain about inadequate conditions offered to
In Curitiba and Cuiaba, another World Cup city with an overdue
stadium, journalists who visited this week were subjected to the
somewhat surreal experience of being shown presentations that bore
scant resemblance to the reality outside.
At Cuiaba’s stadium, officials showed slides of a beautifully
green pitch, VIP lounges with comfy seats and a landscaped
exterior. But in reality the newly seeded pitch is a muddy field,
the stadium has no seats and its surroundings are still red earth
turning gooey with the onset of the rainy season.
AP Sports Writer Tales Azzoni contributed to this report from
Leicester is an international sports columnist for The
Associated Press. Write to him at jleicester(at)ap.org or follow
him at http://twitter.com/johnleicester