Mon, Dec 16, 2013 - Page 7 News List

Deaths, strike add to Brazil’s Cup woes

PRESSURE POINT:The stadium where a man fell to his death has had work increased to 20 hours a day to meet a completion target that is behind FIFA’s original schedule

Reuters, CURITIBA, Brazil

A worker observes the Arena Amazonia stadium under construction in Manaus, Brazil, on Saturday. Construction worker Marcleudo de Melo Ferreira fell to his death from the roof earlier in the day after a cable broke.

Photo: Reuters

Brazil’s troubled buildup to the 2014 World Cup continued on Saturday after a construction worker fell to his death from the roof of the Arena Amazonia in Manaus and officials moved to downplay a strike of 300 workers at the stadium in Curitiba.

In another incident in Manaus, the death of a second worker, Jose Antonio da Silva Nascimento, was reported by Brazilian state television after his body was found in a convention center close to the stadium.

Earlier on Saturday, 22-year-old Marcleudo de Melo Ferreira became the third stadium worker to die since last month when two men were killed after a crane collapsed onto the roof of the Corinthians Arena in Sao Paulo.

In all, five workers have died on stadiums being built for next year’s soccer showpiece while a sixth was killed working on the Palmeiras arena in Sao Paulo, which will not be used to host World Cup matches, but could serve as an official training base.

De Melo Ferreira died in hospital in the early hours of Saturday after a cable snapped and sent him falling 35m from the roof of the 605 million reais (US$262 million) Arena Amazonia, where work has been stepped up to 20 hours a day to ensure it does not slip any further behind schedule. It is due to be ready by Jan. 15.

Statements issued by FIFA and Andrade Gutierrez, the construction company that employed De Melo Ferreira, expressed regret and an investigation into his death has begun.

Miguel Capobiango, the coordinator for UGP Copa, the umbrella coordination organization for all World Cup projects in Manaus, said on a site visit on Dec. 4 that construction time on the stadium had been increased and workers were now operating in three shifts for all but four hours a day.

“The stadium will be ready in time and we will not let FIFA or anyone else down,” he said, speaking against a background of industrial noise in the stadium where hundreds of men were working on the roof, on the ground and within the stadium itself.

However, last week in Curitiba, about a quarter of the 1,200-strong workforce went on strike, further delaying construction on the 265 million reais Arena da Baixada, which had been expected to be the last of the six remaining projects to be completed before the Sao Paulo crane collapse.

Although the stadium is the cheapest of all 12, its construction has been among the most problematic with complications surrounding its three stakeholders — Atletico Paranaense, the Parana State and the city of Curitiba delaying its transformation into a modern 42,000-seater ground that will, like Manaus, stage four World Cup matches.

More than 250 men went on strike on Tuesday demanding back pay from last month and another 50 joined them in a demonstration on Friday, bringing the streets around the stadium to a standstill.

Although strikes are not uncommon on building projects in Brazil, this one is deeply embarrassing for those involved in the World Cup project.

The Arena da Baixada was described as “a mess” by senior FIFA sources at the draw for the World Cup finals at Costa do Sauipe last week and is not due to be ready until the second half of February at the earliest when a test match will be held.

Its projected inauguration is March 26 — less than 12 weeks before it is due to stage its first World Cup match between Iran and Nigeria on June 16.

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