FIFA Threatens World Cup Host City Curitiba with Exclusion over Speed of Work

Tom Sunderland@@TomSunderland_Featured ColumnistJanuary 21, 2014

Workers flatten the soil for the pitch in the Arena de Baixada in Curitiba, Brazil, Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2013. Four matches of the 2014 soccer World Cup will be played in the stadium. (AP Photo/Ferdinand Ostrop)
Ferdinand Ostrop/Associated Press

Authorities in Curitiba have been warned that they risk being excluded from the 2014 World Cup unless work on their construction shows significant signs of speeding up in the coming weeks.

BBC Sport's Richard Conway confirmed FIFA's ultimatum on Tuesday, Jan. 21:

The Arena da Baixada is among the chief concerns for the host city, with renovations of the 41,456-capacity ground facing setbacks in recent months.  

In December, The Guardian's Owen Gibson confirmed that the stadium, home to Brazil's Atletico Paranaense, would not be finished until March or later.

Alfredo Fernandes/Associated Press

This is while four of the other five stadiums that required work prior to the tournament would be ready by the end of January, according to Gibson:

Concern over the readiness of some World Cup stadiums has intensified on the eve of the finals draw. While Brazil's deputy sports minister Luis Fernandes attempted to quell mounting concerns by announcing that four of the six stadiums still unfinished would be ready to hand over to Fifa in January, there is a question mark over the Arena da Baixada in Curitiba.

Jérôme Valcke, Fifa's secretary general who is responsible for delivering the World Cup, said on Tuesday that three stadiums – in Curitiba, São Paulo and Cuiabá – would miss the deadline of being finished by the end of the year.

Mike Collett of Reuters says that the unfortunate delays shouldn't obstruct what a "cool place" the city is, however:

FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke chimed in on the subject, confirming Curitiba's involvement as of right now, but just how long that will last is another matter:

It's not abnormal for facets of a nation's World Cup preparation to enter periods of disarray, but Curitiba's estimation for completion is running it extremely tight in time for the beginning of the competition on June 12.

The Arena da Baixada is slated to host four matches as things stand, all of which are listed below.

Arena da Baixada Scheduled 2014 World Cup Matches
DateTimeTeam 1Match No.Team 2Group
June 16, 20144 p.m. local time/6 p.m. GMT IranMatch 12 NigeriaF
June 20, 20147 p.m. local time/9 p.m. GMT HondurasMatch 26 EcuadorE
June 23, 20141 p.m. local time/3 p.m. GMT AustraliaMatch 35 SpainB
June 26, 20145 p.m. local time/7 p.m. GMT AlgeriaMatch 48 RussiaH

However, the group games concerned face disruption if Curitiba were to be punished as a result of their slow progress, with some pools facing potential rescheduling in order to accommodate those nations affected.

Curitiba now enters a frantic period of its development, where speed will play a decisive factor in their World Cup involvement, but not at the slightest sacrifice in quality or safety.