World Cup organizers defend record after accidents

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SAO PAULO (AP) - World Cup organizers insisted Tuesday after the latest death that they aren’t sacrificing worker safety in a rush to ready Brazil’s venues for next year’s tournament.

In an interview with a small group of reporters, the managing director of FIFA’s World Cup Brazil Office, Ron DelMont, said: “There is never a discussion that says you have to cut any corners to make sure that you deliver the stadium.”

“At no point” has FIFA suggested loosening its safety requirements and “everything that we ask for is within the legislation and the guidelines of the government,” he said.

“I have to say it’s a bit frustrating to make that kind of suggestion that the event is much more important than the safety of the workers, because it’s not only the safety of the workers, it’s the safety of the spectators,” he said. “So we don’t compromise at all.”

A worker fell 115 feet to his death Saturday at the Arena Amazonia in the jungle city of Manaus. It was the second death at the Arena Amazonia in less than a year, and the fifth at a World Cup venue the past two years.

Deputy Sports Minister Luis Fernandes said he’s “pretty sure” that accident rates at World Cup venues are “well under” those in other sectors of Brazilian construction.

“It’s a tragedy for all of us but I would not credit that to any undue pressure,” he said of the death in Manaus. “There are accidents that are involved when you have so many thousands of workers.”

He noted that the construction companies at nearly all stadiums “are very experienced” and global. He promised “full punishment under the rule of law” for any firm that violates Brazil’s “very strict, rigid, firm, labor protection laws.”

“Those labor protection laws have to be applied and are applied,” he said.

Two workers were killed when a crane collapsed Nov. 27 as it was hoisting a 500-ton piece of roofing at the Sao Paulo stadium that will host the World Cup opener. Last year, a worker died at the construction site of the stadium in the nation’s capital, Brasilia. The other death in Manaus happened in March.

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 This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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