FIFA Accepts Corinthians Stadium Will Be Ready for World Cup

Sao Paulo’s chances of staging the opening ceremony of soccer’s 2014 World Cup improved after FIFA accepted a guarantee that SC Corinthians Paulista’s new stadium will be completed in time for the tournament.

The stadium, being built by Odebrecht SA, will cost 820 million reais ($522 million), Corinthians President Andres Sanchez told reporters yesterday in Sao Paulo. BNDES, the national development bank, pledged $400 million and the city of Sao Paulo will provide a property fund worth $400 million.

“This approval -- in record time, less than a year -- is the result of efforts by the government of Sao Paulo, particularly the Governor Geraldo Alckmin and Mayor Gilberto Kassab,” Ricardo Teixeira, president of the World Cup local organising committee and the Brazilian Football Confederation, said in a statement on Corinthians’ website.

FIFA’s approval of the project to build a new home for Brazil’s biggest soccer club by revenue -- which originally had a cost estimate of $1.2 billion -- was required for Sao Paulo to host World Cup games.

In June, sports minister Orlando Silva said in an interview that the federal government would tell tournament organizer FIFA that Sao Paulo, Salvador, Belo Horizonte and Brasilia are eligible to stage the opening ceremony. FIFA will announce the venue in October.

“I said before that if Corinthians could fulfill all the requirements of FIFA, the opening of the World Cup would be in Sao Paulo,” Corinthians’ Sanchez said. “Corinthians gave the guarantees required by FIFA, so the opening will be in Sao Paulo.”

Investment in airports, stadiums, ports and urban transportation before the World Cup will total about 23 billion reais, Silva said. Most of the funding will come from the government.

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