Updated 07:37 AM EDT, Sat, Apr 10, 2021

Accident At World Cup Venue in Brazil Leaves Two Dead; Doubts Linger Whether They Can Make FIFA Deadlines (video)

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Questions regarding Brazil's preparation for the 2014 World Cup continue to swirl after two people died in a work place accident this week at the venue that will host the opening match of the global soccer tournament.

Former Sport Club Corinthians president Andres Sanchez confirmed two workers died Wednesday at Sao Paulo's Itaquerao Stadium after a construction crane fell through a 500-ton metal structure that cut through the outer walls of the stadium, destroying rows of seats, and slamming into a massive LED panel that runs across the stadium's facade.

One employee, 44-year-old Ronaldo Oliveira dos Santos, was sleeping in a restricted area while 42-year-old Fabio Luis Pereira was inside a truck that was hit by the metal structure, according to the Associated Press.

''The sound was as loud as a thunderclap or a huge explosion,'' said Rodrigo Vessoni, a Brazilian reporter who said he had just walked out of the stadium after interviewing Sanchez. ''There was a lot of running around, a lot of shouting. It was frightening. Chills ran through my entire body. It was unbelievable. The noise was metal grating on metal. It was a terrible thing to see.''

While officials for Odebrecht, the construction company responsible for building the structure in Sao Paulo. say they did everything according to procedure, a safety engineer said project supervisors were warned about potential problems after several days of rain heavily soaked the soil, leaving the ground unstable to support the 500-ton section of roofing, according to The Guardian.

"To his surprise, he was told by the supervisor that nothing was wrong and work should continue," said Antonio de Sousa Ramalho, president of Sao Paulo's civil industry workers' association. "They discussed the matter for a while but in the end the supervisor's decision stood."

Ramalho also says that workers have been putting in long hours, working 12 to 13 hours shifts, with construction employers pressured to make FIFA's strict end-of-the-year deadline to complete the facilities that will host the 2014 World Cup games. The stadium in Cuiaba is one facility not likely to make the deadline - with no pitch, no seats and no roof constructed currently built in the facility, according to BBC.com.

"We should be finished between the 15th and 20th of January," says Mauricio Guimaraes, the local official in charge of the stadium., said to the British Web site. "There won't be enough hotel rooms for the fans, but the city will manage."

The economic strain of World Cup preparations has also created problems for organizers, with Brazilians angered to the point of taking to the streets to protest events such as June's Confederation Cup. The Brazilian Sports Ministry has estimated that the cost of preparations for the World Cup - including stadium renovations, transportation, and security - rose from $11.4 billion to $12.7 billion, an increase of over 10 percent from the original proposed costs, causing discontent among Brazilian voters.

Stadium construction costs for the World Cup has gone three times over-budget, with Brazilian taxpayers picking up the bill despite promises that the private sector would pay for any extra costs. Activists seem prepared to make their voices heard during the summer tournament despite their love for the sport, much like they did last June during the Confederation Cup.

"We're not against the World Cup itself, but how the process of the World Cup has been made here," said Bruno Boaventura, a lawyer in Cuiaba who is a part of the protest movement. "The public haven't been involved in any of the decisions."

FIFA remains adamant Brazil will not lose out on hosting the World Cup despite the public unrest and only six of the 12 promised venues prepared to host matches. But FIFA will not accept many more delays, such as the ones the plagued the Confederation Cup.

"The World Cup will be held in Brazil. The first game will happen in Sao Paulo, the final will be in Rio," said FIFA general secretary Jerome Valcke back in June during a Confederation Cup press conference. "There is no plan B."

 

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