2014 SWC final in Rio

2011-10-21 07:42

Zurich - Rio's fabled Maracana stadium will host the 2014 Soccer World Cup final with Sao Paulo staging the opening match of the global showpiece, FIFA's general secretary Jerome Valcke announced on Thursday.

The opening game takes place on June 12 with the final on July 13.

Meanwhile, the semi-finals will be held in Belo Horizonte on July 8 and Sao Paulo on the ninth with Brasilia staging the third-place play-off on July 12.

FIFA has constantly expressed its concerns over progress being made at the country's 12 World Cup venues, but Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff has insisted since the middle of August that work is on schedule.

The choice of the mythical Maracana to stage the final was not a great surprise, but the Rio venue has endured its share of setbacks, the most recent of which was a 19-day strike by workmen.

They were protesting over wage levels, working conditions as well as health benefits.

Officials had been hoping for a quick return to work as September 16 marked the 1000-day countdown to the start of the tournament.

The cost of modernising the Maracana has been estimated at $660 million (R5.27 billion).

In mid-September, the Brazilian government made assurances that the arenas in all 12 host cities were on schedule in construction or renovation and would be ready by December 2012.

But the government also admitted that work had not started in five of 13 airports which will welcome millions of tourists and fans.

Brazil also needs to spend more than $11.4 billion (R91 billion)to improve roads, boost security and the country's telecommunications infrastructure, according to a study by the Getulio Vargas foundation and Ernst & Young consultants.

The 2014 World Cup will have staggered kick-off times and will send teams on marathon trips involving thousands of kilometres.

"So that the host cities see all the teams, so that the attractions are not restricted to the bigger cities," said Valcke, when asked to justify the huge trips.

It has also been planned so that no single team can benefit from the cooler climate in the southern areas of the vast nation.

In all, the Maracana will stage four group matches, a last 16 tie, one quarter-final as well as the final itself.

Sao Paulo will stage the opening match, three other group games, one round of 16 tie as well as a semi-final.

Capital Brasilia gets four group games, one last 16 match and the third-place play-off.

In Belo Horizonte there will be four group matches, one last 16 encounter and the second semi-final.

Salvador has been handed four group games, a last 16 game and one quarter-final while Fortalezza has four group matches, one last 16 and a quarter-final.

Porto Alegre was awarded four group games, a last 16 date and the fourth quarter-final.

Recife has four group games and a last 16 encounter.

The cities of Cuiaba, Curitiba, Manaus and Natal all have four group games each.