Damaged Sao Paulo World Cup Stadium Delayed to April, FIFA Says

The Sao Paulo stadium where two workers died in an accident last week won’t be ready until two months before it hosts the opening game of soccer’s World Cup, FIFA President Sepp Blatter said yesterday.

The workers were killed Nov. 27 when a crane hoisting a 400-ton steel roofing structure collapsed onto the facade of the Itaquera stadium. Blatter said he is praying that further accidents can be avoided on the site, where use of heavy machinery has been banned pending an investigation into the incident.

“We have received information it should be ready in mid-April,” Blatter told a news conference in Costa do Sauipe, the venue for today’s tournament draw. “For the time being, there is no Plan B.”

FIFA’s General Secretary Jerome Valcke clarified that Blatter was referring to the first test event at the stadium. Construction is incomplete at six of the 12 stadiums that Brazil is using to host the most-watched single-sport event. FIFA wanted the arenas to be ready by Dec. 31, although it said this week that four, including Sao Paulo, would miss that deadline. Facilities in Manaus, Cuiaba and Curitiba are also delayed.

FIFA’s stadium consultant, Charles Botta, is in Sao Paulo surveying the damage and will provide organizers with an update on the construction schedule. Four workers have died on World Cup-related stadium projects in Brazil.

“FIFA can now ask God, Allah, whoever that no more accidents shall arise in connection with the World Cup and hope that the reconstruction of the building can start as soon as possible,” Blatter said.

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