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Curitiba to stay as World Cup venue

FIFA has announced on Tuesday that Curitiba will stay on the list of host cities for the World Cup despite delays in construction of the Arena de Baixada stadium.

The Arena de Baixada in Curitiba was just a shell of a ground when pictured on Jan. 21.
The Arena de Baixada in Curitiba was just a shell of a ground when pictured on Jan. 21.

Curitiba had long been the venue which has concerned the FIFA Organising Committee more than any other, and with less than four months to go until Iran are duty to take on Nigeria on June 16 little appeared to have changed to suggest the building work -- which should have been completed by December -- will be finished at the 42,500-capacity arena. However FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke has given his backing to the city.

Valcke and his inspection team are back in Brazil for another tour of the World Cup venues, while representatives of all 32 qualifying countries have landed in Brazil for a workshop ahead of the finals and he tweeted:

Last week Valcke said those involved in the city's preparations "are seeking and finding solutions to help them catch up and hopefully make sure" the stadium will be ready to host its four matches at the World Cup.

Valcke added in his FIFA column last week that the Brazilian government and officials in Curitiba and the state of Parana were working with FIFA and the local World Cup committee to make sure "a special city in terms of sustainability and passion for football will remain part of the FIFA World Cup lineup."

Porto Alegre, Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and Belo Horizonte had all been mentioned as possible alternative venues for Curitiba's four matches. The other three games due to be held in the city are Honduras v Ecuador (June 20), Australia v Spain (June 23) and Algeria v Russia (June 26). It does not have any games in the knockout rounds.

Construction has yet to be completed on five of the 12 stadiums in Brazil. Arena de Sao Paulo, where the hosts will take on Croatia in the World Cup curtain-raiser on June 12, will not be finished until April.

England coach Roy Hodgson -- on a tour of the venues in which his team will play -- believes FIFA will make sure everything is right by the time the tournament begins.

"FIFA and the Brazilian government has put in a lot of work," Hodgson said. "So I don't see any reasons for us technicians to doubt them."

England will take on Italy in the heat of the Amazon in Manaus, but Hodgson rejected suggestions it would be overly problematic.

"It is hot here, but World Cups are played in the summer," he told BBC Sport. "It was hot in South Africa [for the 2010 World Cup] and it was very hot in America in '94.

"It will be hot here but that is something you have to come to terms with. What we are interested in now is getting a feel for the slightly more different, more tropical climate in the north of Brazil vis-a-vis Rio, where we have been and played."


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