Organizers admit to problems at Confed Cup stadium
BRASILIA, Brazil (AP) — Brazilian organizers acknowledge there were setbacks in the inauguration of the stadium which will host the opener of the Confederations Cup, vowing to try to fix the problems in time for the second and final test event at the venue next Sunday.
The stadium in Recife, meanwhile, was inaugurated on Monday, becoming the last of the six Confederations Cup venues to receive a test event.
After a series of delays, the Estadio Nacional was finally delivered on Saturday in Brasilia, but the venue is far from completed and organizers find themselves racing against time to get it ready by June 15, when Brazil faces Japan in the opener.
Local officials said Monday the stadium was not finalized before the inauguration, when about three percent of the work was yet to be completed. Only about 20,000 people were allowed at the venue on Saturday, when two local clubs played the inaugural match after Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff participated in the ceremonial kickoff.
“It was a success, but this week some adjustments will be needed,” said Claudio Monteiro, the government official in charge of Brasilia’s World Cup preparations. “I know there were some problems, but this was our first test, I believe that we did OK and we will improve.”
The final test event is scheduled for Sunday, when the venue will be open to more than 70,000 fans for the match between traditional clubs Santos and Flamengo in the first round of the Brazilian league.
Fans complained there were no locks in the restroom doors, said that some areas had visible water leaks and noted that cell phone coverage inside the stadium was inefficient. Infrastructure work outside the stadium also remained underway. Fans also faced traffic jams and huge lines to get into the venue.
“Traffic near the stadium was one of the difficulties we faced, but for Sunday’s match we will try to make it easier for the supporters,” Monteiro said.
Later Monday, Rousseff participated in the inauguration of the Recife stadium, where a match among construction workers served as the first test event at the venue. The Arena Pernambuco was officially delivered in April, but it became the last stadium to stage a test event ahead of the warm-up tournament. A match on Wednesday between Brazilian club Nautico and Portugal’s Sporting Lisbon will be the first test open to the public.
FIFA originally wanted three test events in each of the six Confederations Cup venues, but it had to make exceptions because of a series of delays in stadium construction. The Maracana Stadium, which will host the Confederations Cup final on June 30, also will only host one full test event open to the public.
The Brasilia venue was delayed because of a problem with the pitch installation. Local authorities said there could be irreversible damage to the playing field if the stadium’s opening wasn’t moved forward. They blamed excessive rain in the region for the disruption of the installation schedule.
The stadium is one of the most expensive venues built in Brazil, costing about $500 million. It is also one of the most criticized, with many saying that it will become a “white elephant” after the World Cup because the city has no teams in top leagues. On Saturday, there were a few people protesting the excessive costs for the venue and for the World Cup in general.
Next year, Brazil will host the World Cup for the first time since 1950. The country will also be home to the 2016 Rio Olympics.
The Brasilia stadium, called locally as the Mane Garrincha stadium, will host just the opener in the Confederations Cup, but will be the venue for seven matches in the World Cup.
AP Sports Writer Tales Azzoni in Sao Paulo contributed to this report.