Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Porto Alegre faces crucial vote on World Cup financing

(Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)
(Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)

SAO PAULO (AP) — The mayor of Porto Alegre said Monday the southern Brazilian city will not be able to host World Cup matches if local lawmakers fail to approve a bill to help finance the installation of the temporary structures needed for the tournament. 

Mayor Jose Fortunati told Radio Gaucha that "we are in a difficult situation" and "if there's no vote, then it's settled: We will not have the World Cup in Porto Alegre." 

His comments came the day FIFA Secretary General Jerome Valcke, the official in charge of the World Cup, arrived in Rio de Janeiro for a series of meetings to discuss Brazil's preparations for the tournament that starts in June. 

There is no timetable on the vote and FIFA said it can take up to three months to put the structures in place. The World Cup begins on June 12. 

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  • FIFA says matches cannot be held in stadiums that don't have the temporary facilities that are used for the media, sponsors and technical teams. 

    "All this equipment will be bought through this bill, which will provide the resources," Fortunati said. "If it's not voted, we won't be able to seek funding. ... This means that we will not have temporary structures and we will not have a World Cup. It's simple to understand. There's no Plan B." 

    The bill must be approved by Rio Grande do Sul lawmakers to secure tax exemptions for companies interested in funding the facilities. 

    The local government already said it will not spend public money on the projects, which are a responsibility of the stadium owner. The club in charge of the venue, Internacional, recently announced it would not pay for the structures alone, forcing local officials to scramble for a solution. 

    "It's a difficult situation and it's a concern," Fortunati said. 

    It's not the first time local authorities tried to put pressure on lawmakers to vote on the bill. The governor of Rio Grande do Sul state recently said the city was in danger of being excluded from the World Cup because of the delay in the vote. 

    Porto Alegre will host five World Cup matches, including one in the second round. 

    The stadium was one of the six that weren't ready by the end of last year as requested by FIFA. Three of the 12 World Cup stadiums are not finished yet, including the one hosting the opener between Brazil and Croatia in Sao Paulo. 

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    The Associated Press
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