Brazil says no delays on World Cup stadiums
The Brazilian government said construction at 2014 World Cup stadiums is on schedule in all 12 host cities.
With 800 days to go until the World Cup, the government said Tuesday that five stadiums have more than 50 percent of work completed, while another five have more than 30 percent of construction ready. Two are just 20 percent completed - the Beira-Rio stadium in the southern city of Porto Alegre and the Arena das Dunas in northeastern Natal.
The report contrasts with numbers released last month by a government watchdog group which said only stadiums in Salvador and Fortaleza had more than 50 percent of work completed.
According to the government, the Castelao stadium in the northeastern city of Fortaleza is the one closest to being finished, with 60 percent of work completed.
Renovation at the Maracana, which will host the final, is 39 percent complete. The Itaquera Arena in Sao Paulo, which will host the opener, is 30 percent done.
Most stadiums are expected to be ready by the end of this year or the next.
The government report is based on information from the local representatives in the host cities.
Maracana and the Castelao will also be used in next year's Confederations Cup, along with the Mineirao stadium in the central city of Belo Horizonte and the Estadio Nacional in the capital of Brasilia. Work at Mineirao is 55 percent complete and at the Estadio Nacional is 54 percent ready, according to the government figures.
Salvador and Recife are awaiting approval from FIFA to be included in the Confederations Cup. The Fonte Nova in Salvador is 55 percent complete, while the Arena Pernambuco in Recife is only 32 percent done.
Although the government says all stadiums are on schedule, the president of the local World Cup organizing committee, Jose Maria Marin, said last week the situation in Recife is a concern. Marin is traveling to the northeastern city on Wednesday to try to find ways to expedite preparations so it can be picked by FIFA for the Confederations Cup. The decision will be made in June.
The Beira-Rio stadium also was a concern because work at the venue was stopped for eight months as club Internacional and the construction company involved in the project tried to come up with financial guarantees for the project. Work at the stadium, which will host five World Cup matches, restarted only about three weeks ago.
The Brazilian Audit Court, the watchdog responsible for overseeing how the Brazilian government spends public money, said in its March report that only the stadiums in Salvador and Fortaleza had more than half of their construction work completed. The court also raised concerns of possible overspending in all the venues.
The government's monthly report about the status of construction at the stadiums came on the same day as workers in Fortaleza threatened to go on strike to demand better salaries. They said a decision on whether to strike will be made on April 16. The workers had already halted construction at the Castelao for two days in February to demand higher payments.
There have been other workers' strikes at several venues, including at the Maracana, the Fonte Nova, the Mineirao and the Arena Pernambuco.
Follow Tales Azzoni at http://twitter.com/tazzoni