KEIR RADNEDGE in SAO PAULO: Brazil’s ill-starred World Cup preparations hit two more snags over the weekend.
First President Dilma Rousseff was targeted by protesters in Manaus during a low-key visit to the new stadium then a report emerged suggesting that fire-damage at the venue in Cuiaba caused far more damage than admitted.
These two development followed protests in Brasilia which turned violent after left 40 demonstrators and police needing hospital treatment.
Saturday should have seen the formal opening of the Arena Amazonia in Manaus until a postponement ordered by state Governor Omar Aziz.
Rousseff, visiting the city instead to launch a housing project, was subjected to catcalls from around 50 placard-waving demonstrators. Their main complaint was politicians’ failure to deliver both a promised monorail system and an upgrade of local bus transport while still raising fares.
Cuiaba is one of the most seriously delayed stadia along with Manaus, Curitiba and Sao Paulo.
The agency claimed that an 18-page report prepared in December by the Mato Grosso state district attorney’s office, warned that the blaze caused “structural damage” that “could compromise the overall stability of the construction.”
Local organising officials had claimed that damage, possibly the product of arson, had been superficial.
A follow-up inspection of damaged area in two grandstands is scheduled for Thursday. Prosecutor Clovis de Almeida said: “We will make sure that no games occur until the safety is completely guaranteed.”
World federation FIFA told Reuters it was “unaware” of any structural damage. Cuiaba is due to stage four first round group matches.