Football: Brazil govt denies Cuiaba Cup problems

Smoke billows from the partially-constructed Arena Pantanal soccer stadium, projected to host 2014 World Cup matches, from a fire in the base of the structure, in Cuiaba, on Oct 25, 2013.  World Cup preparations are on target at the venue o
Smoke billows from the partially-constructed Arena Pantanal soccer stadium, projected to host 2014 World Cup matches, from a fire in the base of the structure, in Cuiaba, on Oct 25, 2013.  World Cup preparations are on target at the venue of Cuiaba, Brazilian sports Minister Aldo Rebelo said on Monday, shrugging off reports an October fire had caused structural problems. -- FILE PHOTO: REUTERS

BRASïLIA (AFP) - World Cup preparations are on target at the venue of Cuiaba, Brazilian sports Minister Aldo Rebelo said on Monday, shrugging off reports an October fire had caused structural problems.

"I visited the statdium at Cuiaba last week and work is ongoing (but) there is no work ongoing in terms of concrete or metal structures - all has been completed," Mr Rebelo told a news conference in Brasilia.

Mr Rebelo said that the government deemed an initial report from constructors insufficient and had called for an additional independent assessment.

But speaking alongside visiting Fifa secretary-general Jerome Valcke, Mr Rebelo insisted that "last October's small fire has not compromised any structure fundamental to the functioning" of the stadium, which will host four group phase games.

While Cuiaba strains to complete preparations Fifa was on Tuesday to determine if Curitiba has made sufficient progress to remain as a venue.

Mr Valcke noted Monday: "It is impossible to have a World Cup stadium without the proper supporting amenities."

But he stressed: "So far Fifa has not vetoed any of the stadiums."

In a statement on Fifa's website, Mr Valcke added: "We are working with the host cities so that they are all used in the tournament.

"A team of technicians will be in Curitiba tomorrow. Our final decision will be based on their report."

A further doubt emerged last week over the venue at Porto Alegre when the chairman of local club Internacional warned the stadium could be removed from the host city list owing to the cost of temporary facilities the club says it cannot meet.

Mr Giovanni Luigi said the club could not afford to pay the 30 million reals (S$15.8 million) foreseen in the stadium contract with Fifa and was in talks with local and Rio Grande do Sul state authorities on how the costs might be shared.

Fifa said late on Monday in a statement that the club and the state and city authorities would unveil a "joint solution" by Thursday, prior to the stadium's official inauguration that same day when President Dilma Rousseff is due to attend.