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Brazil city faces crucial vote on WCup financing

March 24, 2014

SAO PAULO (AP) — The mayor of a southern Brazilian city said Monday that it will not be able to host World Cup matches as planned if local lawmakers fail to approve a bill to help finance the installation of temporary structures needed for the tournament.

It was just the latest trouble for the stadium in Porto Alegre, which is scheduled to host five matches. The stadium was one of six that weren’t ready by the end of last year as requested by FIFA. Three of the 12 World Cup stadiums are still not finished.

Porto Alegre Mayor Jose Fortunati told Radio Gaucha that the city is in a difficult situation. “If there’s no vote, then it’s settled: We will not have the World Cup in Porto Alegre.”

His comments came the day that FIFA Secretary General Jerome Valcke, the official in charge of the World Cup, arrived in Rio de Janeiro on a three-day visit to discuss Brazil’s preparations for the tournament that starts June 12.

There is no timetable on the vote in Porto Alegre. FIFA has said it can take up to three months to erect temporary structures for the media, sponsors and technical teams. It says matches cannot be held in stadiums without those facilities.

“All this equipment will be bought through this bill, which will provide the resources,” Fortunati said. “If it’s not voted, we won’t be able to seek funding. ... This means that we will not have temporary structures and we will not have a World Cup. It’s simple to understand. There’s no Plan B.”

The bill must be approved by Rio Grande do Sul lawmakers to secure tax exemptions for companies interested in funding the facilities.

The local government already said it will not spend public money on the projects, which are a responsibility of the stadium owner. The club in charge of the venue, Internacional, recently announced it would not pay for the structures by itself, forcing local officials to scramble for a solution.

It’s not the first time local authorities tried to put pressure on lawmakers to vote on the bill. The governor of Rio Grande do Sul state recently said the city was in danger of being excluded from the World Cup because of the delay in the vote.


Tales Azzoni on Twitter: http://twitter.com/tazzoni

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