Judge Clears Way for Brazil-England Soccer Match to Go AheadTariq Panja and Joshua Goodman
A Brazilian judge revoked a ruling that had suspended the national soccer team’s weekend exhibition match against England on safety grounds, clearing the way for the game to go ahead and mark the reopening of the Maracana stadium.
The state government said late yesterday that the duty judge of the Rio de Janeiro court revoked the injunction that suspended the game after receiving a report from military police showing the stadium complied with safety regulations.
“The report had not been delivered to the state’s sports superintendent because of a bureaucratic failure,” read the statement on the Rio government’s website.
Brazil’s buildup to hosting the 2014 soccer World Cup had suffered another setback yesterday when Rio de Janeiro judge Adriana Costa dos Santos ruled that the Maracana, which is slated to host the final next year, wasn’t safe to stage the June 2 exhibition game.
Prosecutors had said earlier yesterday that the stadium must remain closed until it is shown there will be no safety or health risks to the public attending events at the venue. A police report said the stadium presented “safety risks” and “dangerous materials” were at the site, the prosecutors added.
The ruling was the latest hiccup to frustrate organizers of sport’s most-watched event. Construction delays forced FIFA, soccer’s governing body, to backtrack on a demand for test events at six stadiums being used for next month’s Confederations Cup, a warmup event that starts June 15. Brazil’s government is spending 30 billion reais ($14.2 billion) on projects as it prepares to stage the World Cup.
Workmen in hard hats were still working two days ago at the 78,838-seat Maracana, a stadium that had a record crowd of 173,850 when it staged the 1950 World Cup final, the last time the event was held in Brazil. The arena, which cost more than $500 million to renovate since its closing three years ago, missed a second deadline to reopen in December before finally opening last month for an exhibition played at reduced capacity.
England’s national squad arrived in Brazil two days ago ahead of the sold-out game, which is part of the English Football Association’s 150-year anniversary celebrations.
The ruling to suspend the game came three days after the roof at Salvador’s newly built Arena Fonte Nova developed structural problems because of heavy rain. Television showed part of a canvas covering had been torn as workers bailed rainwater off the roof. Italy, one of the squads competing at the eight-team Confederations Cup, will train at Rio’s Joao Havelange stadium that was indefinitely shut to the public in March after concerns that its roof was also unsafe.
Authorities across Brazil have stepped up inspections of theaters, bars and other public spaces following a blaze at an overcrowded nightclub in January that killed 235 people, Brazil’s deadliest in a half-century. The club’s owners lacked proper permits and documentation confirming the venue could handle large crowds.