Wed, May 29, 2013 - Page 18 News List

Rain tears through stadium ahead of Confederations Cup

Reuters, RIO DE JANEIRO

Heavy rains in the northeastern city of Salvador tore through the roof of a newly constructed venue for Confederations Cup soccer matches starting next month, a warmup before Brazil hosts the World Cup next year.

The downpour ripped a large swath out of one of 36 panels of plastic stretched above the seating in the stadium, local authorities said. Televised images showed a large triangular tear in the covering that dwarfed workers gathered around the rim of the hole to inspect it.

Stadium administrators said maintenance workers had mistakenly bent part of the roof, causing excessive rainwater to accumulate.

Although officials say the roof will be repaired before Confederations Cup games begin on June 15, the damage underscores concerns about Brazil’s preparedness to host the World Cup in 12 cities next year and the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

Other major venues have also suffered problems in recent weeks, as Brazil, which has invested billions of dollars on the construction of new facilities, races to meet deadlines set by organizers of the events.

Much of the area around Rio’s Maracana Stadium, which is one of the best-known soccer arenas in the world and has been totally rebuilt for the forthcoming events, remains a construction site. Attendees at a reinauguration of the stadium last month had to be bused in from a nearby facility.

Visitors at other stadiums have complained of unfinished bathrooms, leaky plumbing and other problems that critics blame on hasty preparations.

Engenhao, another big Rio stadium which was built from scratch before the 2007 Pan-American Games and is scheduled to host Olympic events, has been closed after inspectors discovered structural flaws in its roof. Botafogo, the soccer club that used the stadium for home matches, have been unable to play there since March.

Brazilian officials say all stadiums and other infrastructure will be ready for the big events. In a weekly radio chat broadcast on government radio, Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff on Monday expressed delight at having christened, often by kicking a ball, all six Confederations Cup venues.

“These six stadiums show that the [Brazilian] people have the determination, capacity and competence to host the best World Cup of all time,” she said.

The 50,000-seat Salvador Stadium, known as the Fonte Nova, has been rebuilt at a cost of 600 million reais (US$293 million).

Disaster struck at a previous arena on the same site in 2007, when part of the structure gave way during a match, killing seven people.

Salvador is Brazil’s third-largest metropolitan area and a popular tourist destination.

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