No decision yet on Sao Paulo stadium for 2014 WCup

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SAO PAULO (AP) - Sao Paulo officials have yet to decide on a stadium for the 2014 World Cup, leaving South America’s biggest city in danger of being left out of the tournament.

City officials and members of the World Cup organizing committee met Wednesday but failed to come up with a stadium proposal to send to FIFA, although they insist the goal is for the city to host the competition’s opening match.

“We will do everything possible for the opener to be in Sao Paulo,” Brazilian soccer federation president Ricardo Teixeira said. “We didn’t discuss stadiums in this meeting, we only talked in general terms about the need for Sao Paulo to have a significant participation in the 2014 World Cup.”

Sao Paulo state governor Alberto Goldman dismissed concerns that the city will be dropped as one of the hosts.

“We will find solutions, there is still time,” Goldman said.

Morumbi stadium was dropped from the original project earlier this year after FIFA said there were not enough financial guarantees for its renovation. Since then, officials have been struggling to find an alternative that would keep Sao Paulo as one of the 12 host cities for the 2014 tournament.

There was a proposal to build a completely new stadium, which could later be used by popular club Corinthians, but city officials said they would not use public funds to construct a new venue.

“There is public money only for the infrastructure which will be used by the population,” Goldman said.

Without Morumbi or a new stadium, only a few options are left.

Palmeiras is renovating its stadium according to FIFA guidelines and could be used as a venue, although the initial plan was for it to serve as a training base for teams. Seating capacity at the Palestra Italia stadium _ which will be known as the Palestra Italia Arena _ will increase from 30,000 to 45,000 when the upgrade is complete in 2012, not enough for the tournament’s opening match.

“We sent all the documentation offering our arena,” club president Luiz Gonzaga Belluzzo said.

Another option is to renovate the city’s outdated Pacaembu stadium, which has a capacity of about 40,000, but so far there hasn’t been any official project for such renovation.

The 50-year-old Morumbi would seat nearly 70,000 fans after being renovated, but FIFA and Brazilian organizers, which includes the Brazilian federation, said the city missed a May 14 deadline to underwrite a $135 million remodeling project.

FIFA awarded the 2014 hosting rights to Brazil in October 2007 after declaring the race open only to South American countries. Brazil was the sole candidate, although it already was a strong favorite, even before Colombia withdrew several months before the scheduled decision by FIFA.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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