A new stadium in the capital Brasilia is reported to be on standby to host extra matches at soccer’s 2014 World Cup in Brazil if some of the other proposed venues are not ready in time.
Several host cities are in a race to complete work on venues and supporting infrastructure before the tournament kicks off in June.
These include Porto Alegre, in southern Brazil, where the mayor Jose Fortunati this week warned that the city could be forced to withdraw as a host of matches if local lawmakers did not approve a bill seen as necessary to finance temporary structures at the stadium.
However, the bill was passed by the Rio Grande do Sul state legislative assembly on Tuesday, granting tax exemptions to companies interested in funding the facilities.
The renovation of Porto Alegre’s Estadio Beira Rio stadium, which is due to host five matches at the World Cup, is complete, but temporary structures are required for media, sponsors and technical teams at the tournament.
The new Arena de Sao Paulo, which is set to stage the opening match between Brazil and Croatia on June 12 and five other fixtures, has yet to be delivered, as have the venues in Cuiaba and Curitiba.
As a result, the Brazilian government has told Brasilia, whose Estadio Nacional is already down to host seven games at the World Cup, to remain on standby as a ‘plan B’ option if other stadia are not ready in time, according to the UK’s Guardian newspaper.
The venue in the capital was built in time to stage games at last year’s Confederations Cup, the World Cup dress rehearsal.
Fifa secretary general Jerome Valcke raised concerns about the venues in Sao Paulo and Porto Alegre last Friday and has returned to Brazil this week to be updated on the state of World Cup preparations.
Despite the huge popularity of soccer in the country, the delays in completing stadia have added to a sense of pessimism over the World Cup, evidenced by the newly-released results of a survey showing that fewer than half of residents are positive about the tournament.
The poll conducted by Sao Paulo-based Datafolha on February 18 and 19 found that only 13 per cent of respondents thought the event would be "great,",while 33 per cent said it would be "good".
Some 30 per cent claimed that the World Cup would be "ok", while 24 per cent believe it will be "bad" or "terrible".
A poll published by Datafolha last month showed that only 52 per cent of Brazilians wanted the country to stage the World Cup, down from a high of 79 per cent in November 2008, a year after Brazil was chosen as the host.
The survey showed that 38 per cent of Brazilians were against staging the competition, up from 10 per cent in 2008.
Support for the World Cup has waned since massive protests broke out at the time of the Confederations Cup last year against a perceived lack of government spending on public services, especially when compared with the heavy investment in soccer facilities.Sportcal