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Brazil: World Cup Stadiums to be Late

Friday, December 6, 2013

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One week after two construction workers perished in the run-up to a major deadline, Brazil has conceded that none of the six World Cup 2014 stadiums under construction will meet the scheduled Dec. 31 due date for completion.

Officials insisted that the country would be ready for the games' opening date of June 12 and shrugged off the delay without mentioning the fatal accident.

crane collapse
George ge Ahammaduhu / Twitter

Two workers were killed Nov. 27 when a crane collapsed at the Arena Corinthians in San Paulo, Brazil.

''In every wedding that I attended, the bride was late," Brazil's Sports Minister Aldo Rebelo told reporters. "I've never seen a bride arrive on time. But I've never seen a wedding not happen because of that."

He added: ''It's probable that there will be a delay here or there, but nothing too significant. What is important is that all of the stadiums will be ready.''

Nor did World Cup host FIFA express concern, saying in a statement: ''Due to the reduced timeline, FIFA, the [local organizing committee], government and stadium authorities are adjusting the stadium operational program to ensure that the stadiums are delivered and host events prior to the FIFA World Cup without compromising on safety or quality.''

The six stadiums under construction represent half of the World Cup 2014 venues, projects that total $3.5 billion.

Crane Collapse

No officials mentioned the crane collapse Nov. 27 that killed two workers at the nearly completed Arena Corinthians in Sao Paulo. The crane had been hoisting a 420-ton metal roofing module—the last of 38 modules for the roof—when it fell onto the stadium (see video here). About 1,350 workers were on site at the time, officials said.

A safety engineer at the site allegedly warned his supervisor of unstable ground around the stadium before the accident, but his warnings were not heeded, a labor union leader told The Associated Press. The construction company has denied the accusation.

However, the Labor Ministry has ordered general contractor Odebrecht not to use the other cranes on the site until “safety measures are in place and there is no more risk of accidents."

Dangerous Speed?

The cause of the accident remains under investigation, but critics accused Brazil of allowing work to proceed at a dangerous pace to meet the Dec. 31 deadlines set by FIFA.

In March 2012 FIFA’s General Secretary Jérôme Valcke declared that Brazil needed “a kick up the backside” to speed up preparations for the games. In August, Rebelo said that Brazil needed to work faster on the six stadiums to make FIFA's deadline.

Wikimedia / Antonio Cruz/ABr

BrazilSports Minister Aldo Rebelo (shown in 2006) said in August that construction needed to speed up to make the Dec. 31 deadline. After two deaths, Brazil will miss that deadline.

A report on the scale of the crane damage is expected within days. Meanwhile, five other World Cup stadiums around the country are also not ready to be turned over.

Rebelo said the venues would be ready for pre-tournament tests in late January, but the local World Cup organizing committee said the stadium in the southern city of Curitiba might not be ready until March.

The Curitiba project has also been the focus of concern. In early October, construction there was halted by court order "due to unsafe working conditions," the Associated Press reported.

“A judge cited countless infractions and said workers were at risk of ‘being buried, run over and of collision, falling from heights and being hit by construction material.’”

World Cup Labor Woes

Brazil is not the only country accused of putting the World Cup before the health and welfare of workers who are making the event possible.

The International Trade Union Confederation says migrant workers from Nepal, India and other South Asian and African countries working on World Cup 2022 projects in Qatar have been subjected to brutal and unsafe working conditions that have resulted in numerous deaths.

ITUC / YouTube

The International Trade Union Confederation released this video of World Cup construction conditions in Qatar.

The union says 400 workers have died during construction and 3,600 more may perish on the job before those games begin.

FIFA has declined to intervene in the dispute and has affirmed its selection of Qatar for the event.


Tagged categories: Accidents; Cranes; Equipment; Fatalities; Health and safety; Latin America; Metals; Roofing materials; Stadiums/Sports Facilities

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