World Cup 2014 stadium collapse: Deaths in Sao Paulo Arena Corinthians add to worries ahead of tournament

Fifa concerned at slow construction pace and Brazilian public’s protests over costs

Belo Horizonte

Even before Wednesday’s tragedy in Sao Paulo, in which two workers were killed when part of the stadium that will host the opening game of next year’s World Cup collapsed, Fifa was worried about the slow progress of building work at many of the 12 tournament venues.

A meeting is planned next month with an “intervention and acceleration” plan prepared in case the country is not ready on time. All the signs are that Fifa will need it, as Brazil once again struggles to prove itself ready for a tournament that is already sparking alarm on many fronts.

The accident at the Arena Corinthians is the third involving fatalities at a World Cup stadium, with four workers dead as a result. In June 2012, a construction worker fell 30 metres to his death at the Mane Garrincha stadium in Brasilia, and another worker died at the Arena Amazonia in Manaus in March this year.

Fifa’s president, Sepp Blatter, on Wednesday night said he was “deeply saddened by the tragic death of workers”, insisting that the safety of construction staff was ‘‘a top priority’’.

But many problems remain. A number of stadiums are unfinished, and some, such as those in Manaus, Cuiaba and Curitiba, are perilously behind schedule. The rains have now started in Manaus, slowing building work to a crawl, and Mauricio Guimaraes, the man in charge of the World  Cup project in Cuiaba, has admitted that the stadium there will not be ready until the middle of January – two weeks after Fifa’s final delivery deadline. It is likely to be the same story in Curitiba, where the Arena da Baixada is only 83 per cent ready.

Even if all the World Cup venues are fully operational come June next year, it will come at considerably greater expense than forecast, as more and more public money is shelled out on overtime and additional costs.

The Brazilian government announced recently that the World Cup stadiums are expected to cost the country around £2.1bn, the vast majority of which will come from public coffers.

Such lateness is particularly hard to fathom, given that Brazil was officially awarded the right to host the World Cup as far back as October 2007. More than 18 months then dragged by before the 12 host cities were announced in May 2009, and political bickering in Sao Paulo meant the site of the World Cup stadium in Brazil’s biggest city, scene of Wednesday’s accident, was only officially confirmed in October 2011.

It was this sense of heels being dragged that led the Fifa general secretary, Jérôme Valcke, to grumble that the country “needed a kick up the backside” in 2012. It was not a comment that went down well among the locals – but neither was it inaccurate.

Worse news for World Cup organisers is that the Brazilian people, who have for so long displayed an almost wilful acceptance of the corruption and sloth that pervade the country’s corridors of power, have finally found their collective voice – and an angry voice it is.

As the Confederations Cup took place in June this year millions of Brazilians took to the streets in protest rallies that were sparked by bus fare rises in Sao Paulo, but soon grew to include all manner of social ills, from woeful public health and education systems to thuggish police handling of demonstrators.

No one knows if the protests, many of which ended in violent confrontations with the police, will return at the World Cup next year. The next potential flashpoint could be the draw, which takes place on 6 December.

Former playing great Romario has been an outspoken critic of the World Cup. “I am not against the World Cup, but I am against the excessive spending,” he has said, and on another, rather more graphic occasion, “Brazil has opened its legs to Fifa.”

Brazil will, in one form or another, be ready for the World Cup. But when it comes to hosting the tournament, those famous Brazilian smiles may already be slipping.

News
news

Emergency call 'started off dumb, but got pretty serious'

News
people

Britain First criticised for using actress's memory to draw attention to their 'hate-filled home page'

Arts and Entertainment
JK Rowling is releasing a new Harry Potter story about Dolores Umbridge
booksJK Rowling to publish new story set in wizard's world for Halloween
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch has refused to deny his involvement in the upcoming new Star Wars film
filmBenedict Cumberbatch reignites those Star Wars rumours
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Russell Brand was in typically combative form during his promotional interview with Newsnight's Evan Davis
people

Thought you'd seen it all after the Jeremy Paxman interview?

Arts and Entertainment
On The Apprentice, “serious” left the room many moons ago and yet still we watch
tv

Greatest mystery about the hit BBC1 show is how it continues to be made at all, writes Grace Dent

News
i100
Life and Style
tech

Voices
Funds raised from the sale of poppies help the members of the armed forces with financial difficulties
voicesLindsey German: The best way of protecting soldiers is to stop sending them into conflicts
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from David Ayer's 'Fury'
film

"History is violent," says the US Army tank commander Don "Wardaddy" Collier

Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
11 best sonic skincare brushes

11 best sonic skincare brushes

Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

Paul Scholes column

I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker