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Curitiba stadium retains World Cup status

February 18, 2014 -- Updated 2201 GMT (0601 HKT)
An aerial view of the Arena da Baixada taken in December displays the work that remains outstanding ahead of June's finals.
An aerial view of the Arena da Baixada taken in December displays the work that remains outstanding ahead of June's finals.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Curitiba's Arena da Baixada retains World Cup status after satisfying FIFA
  • FIFA Secretary General says it is 'essential' that progress is maintained
  • Stadium set to host four World Cup group games

(CNN) -- The delayed stadium in the Brazilian city of Curitiba has retained its World Cup status after satisfying FIFA that all was being done to get the Arena da Baixada ready for June's finals.

Last month, world football's governing body gave local organizers a deadline of 18 February by which to have made significant improvements or risk losing its four World Cup games.

One of these matches includes the final group game for world champions Spain against Australia on June 23.

Read: 'No stadium, no match' - FIFA warns Curitiba

"The special committee instigated by Brazil's Ministry of Sports following an emergency meeting on January 21, consisting of representatives of Atletico Paranaense, the state of Parana and the city of Curitiba, has managed ... to develop a comprehensive recovery plan which includes the solving of the financial challenges involved," said FIFA in a statement.

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The Arena de Baixada venue, home to Atletico Paranaense in the southern state of Parana, is being expanded for the World Cup with new seats added alongside the pitch and capacity raised to 40,000.

Officials claim the stadium should now be ready by May 15, with work set to intensify yet further and a minimum of 1,500 workers guaranteed to be on-site.

Nonetheless, FIFA Secretary General Jerome Valcke warned that the pace of improvement must not falter.

"It is essential that the works are maintained at the required levels and that a collective effort by all the stakeholders involved in Curitiba continues," he said.

"It is a race against a very tight timeline and will require regular monitoring, but we are counting on the commitment made by the Atletico Paranaense, the city and the state of Curitiba."

Some may question the decision to intensify work when six construction workers have died in the rush to meet FIFA's World Cup deadlines.

Read: Manaus World Cup stadium suffers third death

But Luis Fernandes, Brazil's Deputy Sports Minister, said he was delighted to see the "three measures plan" working out.

These cover the progress on construction, improved financial guarantees as well as increased commitments by local organizers.

"It is great to see the significant progress made since our last visit. It's a city which lives and breathes football," said a man who is also the executive coordinator within the government for the FIFA World Cup.

Curitiba is one of four stadiums that missed FIFA's December deadline for completion.

Aside from simply finishing the stadium, local officials must also carry out a number of security tests at new arenas to ensure that they are both safe and fully operational.

Spain-Australia aside, Curitiba is also set to host the following group games: Iran-Nigeria, Honduras-Ecuador and Algeria-Russia.

Preparations for the World Cup have been controversial in Brazil.

Protesters are outraged at what they consider lavish spending on the World Cup as well as the 2016 Olympic Games.

Brazil has not hosted the World Cup since 1950 -- when it lost 2-1 in the deciding match to Uruguay.

The 2014 tournament is due to open on June 12 with Brazil taking on Croatia in Sao Paulo's Arena Corinthians, a stadium which has also had its own renovation issues.

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