Fresh stadium concern as FIFA battles Brazilian legal challenge

World football's governing body FIFA on Thursday defended itself after Brazilian federal prosecutors said they are seeking to avoid paying out some $500m of public money relating to spending on temporary structures and broadcasting facilities at World Cup venues.

  • Published: 25/10/2013 at 05:49 AM
  • Newspaper section: news

People walk next to the construction site of a new stadium for the FIFA World Cup 2014, Arena Pantanal, in Cuiaba, Mato Grosso State, Brazil on January 29, 2012

FIFA responded amid renewed concern that all of the 12 World Cup venues would be ready by a FIFA-imposed deadline of December 31 after the governor of central Mato Grosso state indicated the Arena Pantanal in Cuiaba city might need an extra fortnight to finalise facilities.

"We may need a few extra days, 10 to 15, to finish things off and install some seats," said Silval Barbosa, quoted by Globo Esporte website.

He added the delay at the 85-percent ready $245 million venue was nothing to worry about -- though FIFA has repeatedly stressed December 31 is the cut-off date.

State communications secretary Carlos Rayel swiftly contradicted Barbosa, telling AFP that "everything will be delivered as specified by the contract, that is by December 31."

On Wednesday, federal prosecutors from Brasilia said they will present a lawsuit to ensure the Brazilian taxpayer is not held liable for some 1.2 billion reais ($550m) of costs which FIFA believes Brazil should pay.

Prosecutors representing the six Brazilian states who hosted last June's Confederations Cup have also sought, unsuccessfully, to recover almost $100m related to the World Cup dress rehearsal.

Brazil argues that any temporary facility will not be of post-Cup benefit to the Brazilian people so the state should not have to foot the bill.

FIFA, however, says it does not own the stadiums and is therefore not liable for associated facilities.

In a statement, FIFA said: "FIFA and the Local Organising Committee (LOC) were not notified of the legal action mentioned. However, the liability related to complementary structures were clearly stated in the contracts signed by those responsible for the FIFA World Cup stadia in 2007 and again in its amendments, in 2009.

"In summary, FIFA and the LOC (local organising committee) are responsible for complementary structures such as hospitality areas, commercial display area, food concessions and official products stores, as well as for decoration and signage of the event, in addition to network traffic data and printing solutions.

"Other spaces and adaptations (for example, media centre, press tribune, volunteer centre and security structure) are under the responsibility of the stadium owners."

FIFA pointed out World Cup matches can attract up to 2,000 media representatives or around 20 times more than a domestic game.

The body added: "It is important to highlight that no stadium in the world can receive an event of a global scale without adjustments."

Brazil will next June host the World Cup for the first time since 1950 in 12 cities, several of which do not host a top flight team, casting doubt on whether new stadia in cities including the Amazonian city of Manaus, Natal in the north and the capital Brasilia.

The Confederations Cup saw major public protests against the multi-billion cost of staging the event and disgruntled civilians have promised to take to the streets again in the run-up to the World Cup.

Many Brazilians insist the money would have been better spent on infrastructure, education and health and have criticised the building of new stadiums.

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