FIFA threatens to strip Brazilian city Curitiba of 2014 World Cup host duty

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Talk of stripping the World Cup from Brazil has long since moved to backburners, never mind the fears of behemoth traffic jams, ugly unrest borne of economic disparity, the overarching stadium construction snags and so on. Details, details.

But could the games be stripped from one of the venues? A top FIFA official has threatened so as southern Brazilian city’s stadium has become a serious laggard in its get-ready efforts.

FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke, who certainly has been making quite a bit of news lately, said work is so far behind at the Arena da Baixada stadium (the photo at right was taken Tuesday) that its standing as a World Cup host was in serious jeopardy. A decision on whether Curitiba’s lucrative host duties will be stripped away will happen during a series of World Cup workshops beginning Feb. 18 in Brazil.

The workshops include teams, media and FIFA staff. “Important information” will be given to teams, according to world soccer’s governing body.

As FIFA promoted through its website that Curitiba is pepping up the pace of construction, here is what Valcke had to say. You be the judge as to whether this is serious business, or just a slight escalation of the usual pre-tournament bluster we get when individual venues or entire countries fall predictably behind on the stadiums, infrastructure, etc.

To be very honest, the situation as it stands is not ideal. The stadium is very delayed and well outside the delivery schedule to ensure best use by FIFA and the FIFA World Cup. But we have to be positive and that’s why we have come together, as the main driving forces involved, to find solutions. By 18 February … we have to decide between us – the city of Curitiba, the state of Parana, Clube Atletico Paranaense football team, the LOC and FIFA – whether the stadium is in a position on that date to give us the confidence to hold World Cup matches there, without risking the organisation of the event. We will have people from FIFA and the LOC monitoring the stadium’s progress on a daily basis and we will work together to guarantee that Curitiba will host FIFA World Cup games.”