Brasilia’s World Cup venue hit by fresh delays

Sunday’s scheduled opening of Brasilia’s venue for the 2013 FIFA Confederations Cup and 2014 World Cup has been delayed until May 18 as the pitch has yet to be installed at the stadium.

The Mane Garrincha, where Brazil faces Japan in the June 15 opener of the Confederations Cup, is one of a number of venues that have suffered delays. Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff was set to open the new 72,000-seat stadium on Sunday but contractors have been hit by the effects of heavy rainfall and have not been able to drain the waterlogged ground enough to lay the turf. “Without the grass it would be like opening a theatre with no stage,” said Brasilia’s World Cup secretary Claudio Monteiro, according to Reuters.

The US$500 million Mane Garrincha is the most expensive of Brazil’s 12 World Cup venues and, along with Rio de Janeiro’s Maracana, is one of two facilities that are yet to open for the six-venue Confederations Cup. Reuters reports that Brasilia is now set to open its stadium when the finalists of the city’s local championship meet. FIFA requires two test events for the host venues and the second such game is expected to be Santos’ clash with Flamengo in the first fixture of the Campeonato Brasileiro Serie A on May 26.

FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke conceded earlier this month that “operational arrangements” for the Confederations Cup will not be at 100%, warning that this situation will be “impossible to repeat” for the World Cup itself. FIFA on Tuesday said it will intensify its monitoring of the stadiums for the Confederations Cup, adding delays such as that in Brasilia “will not be tolerated” ahead of the World Cup. “FIFA and the LOC demonstrated concern with the tight deadlines and the short period available for the test events that guarantee the operational success of events with the size of the FIFA Confederations Cup,” FIFA and the local organising committee said in a joint statement. “The daily and on-site monitoring of the stadium construction works and the hiring and assembling of the temporary structures by the LOC operational teams already working in the six FCC host cities will be also intensified.” Commenting on Brasilia’s issues with the weather in the local region, the statement added: “FIFA and the LOC highlight one more time that it is exactly because of natural challenges faced in big construction works – like the heavy rains observed in Brasilia – that the stadiums must be ready enough time before and stress again that delays like the ones observed will not be tolerated for the (World Cup) stadiums.”