2014 World Cup: Worker Dies at World Cup Venue as Brazil Presses to Meet FIFA's Deadlines
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Preparations for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil continue to be plagued by complications and uncertainties after another reported death - seven so far - at the construction site of the venue that will host the June 12th opening ceremony and tournament opener between Croatia and Brazil.
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Fabio Hamilton da Cruz fell about 25 feet to his death Saturday morning, after he failed to connect his safety cable because he only had a "quick thing" to finish at the site.
"The informal hearings that I made with employees who were next to the victim at the time of the fall show that he neglected to use the security equipment," said Brazilian inspector Rafael Pavarina to SNTV. "By the time he broke free of the safety cable, he was alerted by his colleagues, 'Connect yourself to the safety cable,' and he replied 'It's a quick thing.'"
His death is the third at Arena Corinthians (also known as Itaquerao Stadium), with a construction crane having fallen 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, killing two constructions workers. In all, seven workers have died in accidents across various construction sites of World Cup venues with time running out on organizers.
Despite optimism from government officials and FIFA, the 2014 Brazil World Cup has been marred with delays at five of the 12 venues promised by Brazilian officials in their bid to host the World Cup.
FIFA organizers have threatened to strip the city of Curitiba of its World Cup host duties due to the severe lag in the reconstruction of Arena da Baixada, while the mayor of Porto Alegre Jose Fortunati had to force local government officials to pass a bill creating tax breaks for companies investing in building temporary structures around Estádio Beira-Rio.
Organizers fell short on funds to build housing for media and sponsors as well as fulfill other FIFA requirements, with Fortunati saying that they would not be able to host any games if the economic bill did not pass last Wednesday.
"If the (project) isn't voted then there won't be a World Cup in Porto Alegre," said Fortunati to Radio Gaucha prior to the vote. "We don't have a way to get that funding. There's no Plan B, no Plan C, no Plan D. This is the only option."
The local government was hesitant to spend public money on the project saying the costs are the responsibility of the stadium owners, Sports Club International of the Campeonato Brasileiro Serie A, and the soccer club team saying they would not ante-up money for the costs if they had to do it alone.
"If I wasn't governor, I would also be protesting against the mistakes in the organization of the World Cup," said Governor of Rio Grande do Sul Tarso Genro to the BBC.
Taxpayers have made organizer's job miserable for having to pay a large chunk of the $10.9 billion for the cost of the World Cup with the private sector picking up 15 percent of the tab. Stadium construction has ballooned three times over the proposed budget, with organizers failing miserably in keeping their promise to use private funds to over extra costs that hosting the event would incur. Citizens have been holding mass protests, swelling up to as many as a million people, including during last year's Confederation Cup - a dress rehearsal for the world championship.
The Brazilian government has created a special riot unit - 10,000 deep chosen from the state police forces - that will be mobilized throughout the country during the tournament.
"We've have been concerned with this (security during the World Cup) before the protests that took place earlier this year, because we don't wait around for things to happen," said head of the National Security Force Col. Alexandre Augusto Aragon, according to USA Today. "The violence of recent protests is what scared us."
Officials are also preparing Brasilia's Estádio Nacional to host extra matches as a contingency plan should Arena da Baixada in Curitiba or Estádio Beira-Rio fail to be game-ready, despite claims by both FIFA and local organizers saying that there is no "Plan B."
Brazil's Sports Minister Aldo Rebelo insist the country will be ready, guaranteeing that all 12 facilities they promised FIFA during the bidding process will be ready by June 12. Rebelo believes the facilities will be completed by late-April to early-May and will pass all their inspections.
"There have been some delays, some of them are characteristic of this type of construction," said Rebelo. "We have very strong regulations and controls. Compliance is extremely important. Sometimes there was a paralysis but the stadiums will be ready. Six were delivered for the Confederations Cup and we have already delivered three more. The final three will host test events as planned."
FIFA Secretary General Jerome Valcke will be in Brazil this week and will keep an eye on the developments of all 12 venues, with a "detailed update" report set to be released Thursday following their meeting in Maracana.
"As said previously, the World Cup will be played in 12 venues," said a spokeswoman for the soccer governing body organization to the UK's The Guardian. "FIFA, the organizing committee, the federal government and the respective host cities are working together this week in Rio de Janeiro to find solutions to the remaining challenges."
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