World CupFriday, May 9, 2014
Eighth stadium worker dies in Brazil
A worker at the World Cup stadium of Cuiabá in Brazil died yesterday in an electrical accident, temporarily interrupting construction at one of the most-delayed venues only five weeks before the soccer tournament. The man is the eighth worker to die building stadiums.
CUIABÁ, Brazil — An electrical accident at a World Cup stadium killed a worker in the Brazilian city of Cuiabá yesterday, temporarily halting construction and adding to setbacks in the rushed preparations for the tournament.
Muhammad-Ali Maciel Afonso, 32, was the eighth worker to die at one of Brazil’s twelve World Cup arenas. He was working for Etel Engenharia to install a communications network, according to a state government official and an executive at the company.
The 2014 World Cup, the first to be held in Brazil since 1950, has been beset by delays, cost overruns and broken promises. In addition to the late delivery of stadiums, three of which are still not ready, several key public transportation projects have been scaled back or abandoned altogether.
FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke and Brazil’s sports minister Aldo Rebelo expressed their condolences to Afonso’s family and colleagues in statements.
The Arena Pantanal in the western city of Cuiabá is one of the most delayed stadiums being built for the tournament, which starts June 12.
The unfinished stadium held a test match last month, but workers are still adding seats, wiring and other final touches. An October fire caused structural damage at the stadium that has since been repaired.
Telecom networks are among the most delayed elements of half a dozen World Cup arenas, including Cuiabá, with industry groups scrambling to set up wifi and cell coverage in as little as half the time they requested.
Cuiabá’s stadium is one of several that critics warn may become white elephants after the World Cup. The Arena Pantanal will have more than 40,000 seats, but the city’s biggest soccer team usually plays to crowds of less than 2,000.
The Arena Pantanal will host four matches in the tournament: Chile vs Australia, Russia vs South Korea, Nigeria vs Bosnia and Japan vs Colombia.
Work on the stadium was halted pending a police investigation into the accident.
Fatal accidents have also occurred at arenas in the capital Brasilia, the Amazonian city of Manaus and the opening venue in Sao Paulo, which President Dilma Rousseff toured yesterday.
Construction of the new Arena Corinthians stadium in Sao Paulo has sparked protests from families who say they have been pushed out of their neighborhood by the project.
Before touring the stadium yesterday, Rousseff met with representatives of more than 2,000 families squatting on private land two miles south of the arena.
The squatters say its construction has driven up real estate values. Rousseff promised them access to the government’s low-cost housing programme, according to a presidential aide.
In Rio de Janeiro yesterday, thousands of passengers across the city endured long lines and tense commutes as a bus strike and related vandalism disrupted the workday in Brazil’s second-biggest city.
The strike renewed concerns about services and public order one month before Rio and 11 other Brazilian cities play host to the upcoming World Cup soccer tournament. It came two weeks after the death of a dancer in a police shootout prompted riots in a slum near the city’s most popular tourist district.
By early afternoon, the consortium of private companies that operates Rio’s municipal bus network said that more than 300 of its vehicles had been vandalized, many of them in Rio’s sprawling western suburbs. Only 30 percent of the city’s bus fleet was still in service.
One bus service employee was injured when a protester threw a rock, while many would-be passengers waited hours to get to work. Some schools asked students to stay home.