Brazil to inaugurate first 2014 World Cup arena

President Dilma Rousseff travels Sunday to the northeastern city of Fortaleza to inaugurate the first Brazilian stadium readied for the 2014 World Cup, an arena built in part by using prison labour.

With its 67,000-seat capacity, the renovated arena, ringed by metallic structures that look like sails floating in the wind, is one of six which will host next June's Confederations Cup and the World Cup a year later.

Other Brazilian host cities for the Confederations Cup are Belo Horizonte, Brasilia, Salvador, Recife and Rio.

Six other Brazilian cities: Cuiaba, Curitiba, Manaus, Natal, Porto Alegre and Sao Paulo will host World Cup games as well.

Sunday, Rousseff will grace the inauguration of the Castelao (big castle) arena with her presence. A concert will follow.

"The sea culture is very much present in the state of Ceara.It is the second destination in the world for kite-surfing fans after Spain," said Ferruccio Feitosa, the state official responsible for the World Cup.

The stadium is virtually completed, with workers putting the finishing touches on access to the facility.

Fortaleza thus meets deadlines set by football's world governing body FIFA. A first test event will be organized before next April 15 for the six host arenas for the Confederations Cup.

The six will have to provide guarantees that they will be ready when the draw is held on December 6 next year for the World Cup, scheduled to take place from June 12 to July 13 2014.

The arena here has three restaurants, an auditorium that can be converted into a movie theatre and a football museum.

On January 27, it will be the first of the 12 World Cup host stadiums to stage a sporting event, a tournament fielding four Brazilian teams: Recife, Fortaleza, Ceara and Bahia

Next to be inaugurated will be the Belo Horizonte arena on February 3.

Why was Fortaleza able to complete its arena without problems while other projects fell behind schedule, eliciting criticism from FIFA?," Feitosa was asked.

"I don't want to judge what went wrong in the other sites but I would have liked to see everybody follow the same successful path. It is just a question of sound management," he replied.

Work was completed within the initial budget of 290 million dollars (220 million euros), with the use of prison labour, just like in Salvador and Belo Horizonte, with female engineers handed a key role.

Fortaleza also chose a prestigious ambassador: ex-player Mirandinha, a former member of the national squad who once played in Japan and for English club Newcastle.

Mirandinha hopes the premier sporting event will put Fortaleza on the world map and attract tourists to its many palm-ringed beaches.

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