Brazil’s crumbling World Cup legacy. Arena Corinthians in a (w)hole lot of trouble

By Samindra Kunti

November 15 – The Arena Corinthians, the World Cup showcase stadium in Sao Paulo that became the home of reigning Brazilian champions Corinthians, is facing severe structural damage due to a massive water leak beneath the facility. The condition may threaten the sustainable use of the venue and again questions the legacy of the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. 

Brazilian newspaper Folha de São Paulo first reported the problem alleging that the water leak, connected to the mysterious appearance of craters in the stadium parking lot, was discovered in June by an internal audit conducted by the club. The damage purportedly may have compromised the structural integrity of the stadium and surrounding area and could result in additional craters, sinkholes and landslides.

“It’s always worrying, everything is worrying,” said Corinthians president Roberto de Andrade. “We are already talking to Odebrecht to assess the situation, to tell if there are risks or if there is a problem.[Odebrecht] built the stadium, only they can tell if there is a problem or not.”

The Brazilian construction giant has been at the centre of public scandal in Brazil with CEO Marcelo Odebrecht currently serving a 19-year prison sentence for his role in Lava-Jato case (cash bribes paid to officials for the award of major contracts).

The build of Arena Corinthians was a controversial and troubled project from the start. The stadium eventually opened in May 2014, days before the start of the 2014 World Cup. The bill for the stadium’s construction bloated from bloated from a provisional $356 million to $513 million.

The arena hosted six games during the 2014 World Cup, including the opening game between Brazil and Croatia and the Argentina vs Holland semi-final.

Since the World Cup, Corinthians have been seeking to finance the stadium through increased gate  revenue and selling the naming rights of the stadium, both have proved elusive. During the Rio 2016 Olympics, the stadium hosted ten matches during the men’s and women’s Olympic football tournament.

The next scheduled match at Arena Corinthians is November 20 when Corinthians face off against Internacional in round 36 of the Brazilian domestic league the Brasileirão. The reigning champions are currently in seventh place in the league.

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