WATCH: Brazil is bracing for a rocky start to the World Cup, with subway strikes, construction delays and protests in the lead up to Thursday’s kickoff. Demonstrators are furious about the cost of the event and say it comes at the expense of public service. Mike Drolet reports.
A Brazilian construction worker has been killed while working on a monorail system in Sao Paulo, a principle host city of the 2014 World Cup.
The rail system was to be completed for the June 12-to-July 13 global soccer spectacle, but like the massive city’s new stadium as well as other infrastructure projects in Sao Paulo, the new transit system has faced significant delays.
Juracy Cunha da Silva, 25, was killed when a 90-ton beam fell at the work site while two others were injured late Monday night, according to O Globo, a local newspaper.
The transit system won’t be ready in time for the World Cup, officials previously stated.
The city’s new 68,000-seat stadium, meanwhile, remains unfinished less than 72 hours before the World Cup opening match between host Brazil and Croatia.
British newspaper The Independent, reported Tuesday the new Arena de Sao Paulo is still facing glaring safety risks for patrons, including no barriers preventing people from falling into lower sections as well as incomplete elevators.
The stadium already appears offside of FIFA’s own safety rules.
Domestic games among Sao Paulo professional club Corinthians have had to be cancelled this year – crucial games to demonstrate the new facility was equipped to handle capacity crowds.
“It [is] vital for us that all facilities will be tested under full match conditions,” FIFA’s secretary general Jerome Valcke said in late May, after a test event scheduled for May 29 at the arena between Corinthians and Cruzeiro was cancelled.
A test match was held on June 1, but the upper north terrace was closed and its southern counterpart filled to half capacity. Some 40,000 spectators attended the match, well down from what the facility will see during the World Cup opener.
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A test event was held again last week at the new arena, but without any spectators.
“The absence of fans flew in the face of FIFA’s own safety rules dictating that the risk assessment should include consideration of the expected attendance,” The Independent said.
Without undergoing the rigour of at least one match with a full stadium of spectators, the Brazilian stadium breaks the United Kingdom’s “Green Guide” governing permissible operating conditions for public sport facilities.
The regulatory handbook — which all professional soccer stadiums in the UK must abide by – dictates an “appropriate number” of test matches be held with the number of spectators at capacity.
Tests need to also be completed on how rapidly full-scale evacuation can take place, with the approved time being eight minutes.
Ticket holders may however find themselves unable to get to Thursday’s match altogether.
Further complicating matters for Brazilian organizers, a transit strike has gripped the sprawling city days before the global spectacle is to start while another one looms in Rio, a second principle host city.
Some of the shakiness in Brazil’s preparations stems from a deep deficit of infrastructure to smoothly handle the waves of global crowds, many of whom expect world-class transit systems and facilities more commonly found in richer countries and cities.
“The fact that Brazil didn’t have the infrastructure as other countries do makes it that much more difficult” for the host country, Howard Bloom, publisher of the Sports Business News, a Canadian newsletter, told Global News.
On top of the 2007 awarding of soccer’s preeminent tournament, the International Olympic Committee handed Brazil two years later in 2009 the Olympic Games of 2016, which will take place in Rio.
The twined obligations formed perhaps an “almost insurmountable challenge” for the still-developing country, Bloom said.
“For the two governing bodies to award the two biggest sports events in the world to the same country in a two year period might have been an irresponsible decision on behalf of both,” Bloom said.
Still, the expert added: “Once these events begin, though, they take on a larger than life persona. And the world will focus on soccer,” he predicted.
“As long as the stadiums are ready.”
— With files from Mike Drolet in Ottawa
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