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Sports minister expects Curitiba in World Cup

February 5, 2014

SAO PAULO (AP) — The southern city of Curitiba was expected to remain in the World Cup despite construction delays on its stadium, Brazil’s sports minister said on Wednesday.

Aldo Rebelo visited the city and said he was confident local organizers will be able to show FIFA this month that the stadium will be ready in time for football’s showcase event in June.

FIFA gave an ultimatum to Brazil and said a decision on whether to drop or keep the city will be made on Feb. 18.

Rebelo said the pace of construction at the stadium has improved and no one believes the city won’t be ready to host its four matches.

“The expectations are the best possible,” Rebelo said. “There has been progress made on the pitch, on the number of workers and on equipment. This gives us more confidence that things have improved.”

Brazil promised to finish all 12 World Cup stadiums by the end of last year as wanted by FIFA, but five remain under construction with four months until the opener on June 12.

Rebelo said the thought of not having Curitiba as a host city has not been taken into account so far.

“We are not considering that possibility,” the minister said.

Having Curitiba dropped from the tournament would be an embarrassment to Brazil and a disaster to FIFA, which has already sold more than one million tickets for matches.

FIFA President Sepp Blatter said last week in the governing body’s weekly magazine that any changes now “would be an admission of failure for Brazil, but also for FIFA,” especially considering the 12 host cities were announced nearly five years ago.

“This should have been ample time in which to complete the infrastructure,” he said. “FIFA can draw attention to omissions. However, responsibility rests with the local organizing committee.”

Blatter said he was “staying relaxed” because he knows “from experience” that delays are common in preparations for every World Cup and Olympics.

“At the end of the day everything ran smoothly for the most part,” he said. “All will be well.”

The Arena da Baixada stadium, being built by Brazilian club Atletico Paranaense, is scheduled to host Iran-Nigeria on June 16, Australia-Spain on June 23, Algeria-Russia on June 26, and Honduras-Ecuador on June 30.

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

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