Blatter: Mid-April finish for damaged WCup stadium
COSTA DO SAUIPE, Brazil (AP) — The damaged stadium in Sao Paulo won’t stage its first match until less than two months before the World Cup is scheduled to open there, FIFA said Thursday.
President Sepp Blatter set a new deadline, extending uncertainty in the World Cup plans since a fatal construction accident at Arena Corinthians last week.
Blatter told a news conference that “April 14th or 15th” is the expected delivery date.
“For the time being there is no plan B,” Blatter said, answering speculation FIFA might seek a replacement stadium or move matches to other cities despite many tickets already being sold.
On June 12, the repaired stadium is due to host the sold-out opening match featuring host nation Brazil, following a lavish opening ceremony watched by some heads of state among the invited guests.
FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke later told reporters the mid-April target was for the first match to test the stadium operations.
FIFA has had to compromise on its original demand that all 12 World Cup stadiums should be delivered by the end of 2013, to allow for a minimum three test events.
Arena Corinthians was set to meet its construction deadline before the Nov. 27 accident.
Two construction workers died when a crane crashed and damaged part of the stadium. Work has resumed after a three-day period of mourning at the site.
Two more stadiums will be construction sites into 2014. The southern city of Curitiba and the wetlands city of Cuiaba will not deliver their stadiums until late-January or February.
Blatter announced a FIFA gift to Brazil of up to $100 million in a World Cup legacy for investment in football development, as it gave South Africa after the 2010 tournament.
FIFA brought forward the announcement with an initial $20 million guarantee, plus more depending on the financial success of the tournament, which is expected to generate at least $4 billion in commercial revenue for the governing body.
“We hope everybody is working well and at the end when we leave, as in South Africa there will be $100 million or even more in this trust,” Blatter said.
FIFA will also give the World Cup winner $35 million in prize money, and all 32 competing nations will get at least $8 million.
The figures were agreed Thursday by FIFA’s executive committee as part of a $576 million pot of payments. It includes a previously agreed $70 million to clubs worldwide whose players are selected and $100 million in a long-term insurance policy to cover salaries of players injured on national team duty.
At the 2010 World Cup, champion Spain earned $30 million from a $348 million teams’ prize money pot.
FIFA pays the money to the 32 national federations, which will each get an additional $1.5 million to prepare for the June 12-July 13 tournament in Brazil.
The German federation has promised all 23 players a 300,000 euros ($407,000) bonus for winning the title.