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Sun, palms and turtles backdrop for WC draw

Sun, palms and turtles backdrop for WC draw

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Published : 2013-12-05 19:16
Updated : 2013-12-05 19:16

Sweltering temperatures and palm-tree fringed beaches home to dozens of newly hatched turtles heading for a glistening sea provided the backdrop as World Cup organizers met Wednesday to finalize preparations for Friday’s draw.

FIFA chose the northeastern resort of Costa do Sauipe for the draw, an hour by road north of the city of Salvador, once Brazil’s capital and still the focus of the country’s African heritage.

World football’s governing body Tuesday had to accept publicly that three of the 12 tournament venues will not meet what had been a strict Dec. 31 delivery deadline ― but FIFA maintains that will not affect the event being a success.

Work stopped temporarily at Sao Paulo’s Arena Corinthians venue last week following a fatal accident which killed two construction workers, while Cuiaba and Curitiba are also running late, with authorities saying they may not be ready before February.

But FIFA president Sepp Blatter insists everything will come together in time to stage an event to remember.

Known for its fine Bahia regional cuisine and carnival, Salvador also revels in the monicker of Brazil’s capital of happiness.

However, that was not the image it transmitted during last June’s Confederations Cup, when violent street protests were what put it in the headlines.

Several Brazilian cities saw protests as more than 1 million people vented their anger at government corruption and the price tag for the World Cup and Rio 2016 Olympics ― an estimated combined $26 billion. If FIFA was hoping to avoid negative publicity this time around, then the choice of Costa do Sauipe ― well away from urban areas and therefore not easily accessible for would-be protesters ― would seem ideal.

A number of international journalists flying in to Salvador discovered local taxi drivers and workmen appeared never to have heard of the entertainment complex hosting the shindig at a reported cost of $15 million.

Protest groups have promised to keep on voicing their concerns that major sporting events are hoovering up public cash, which could be better spent on issues such as education and health infrastructure.

Before the 32 teams are drawn in eight groups of four, a range of Brazilian acts including singers Alexandre Pires and Vanessa da Mata, and the Companhia de Danca Deborah Colker will perform. (AFP)

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