- Associated Press - Wednesday, February 5, 2014

SAO PAULO (AP) - Curitiba is expected to remain in the World Cup despite stadium construction delays, according to Brazil Sports Minister Aldo Rebelo.

He visited Curitiba on Wednesday and said he is confident local organizers will be able to show FIFA the stadium will be ready by June for its four matches. FIFA said a decision on whether to drop the city will be made on Feb. 18.

“The expectations are the best possible,” Rebelo said. “There has been progress made on the pitch, on the number of workers and on equipment. This gives us more confidence that things have improved.”

Brazil promised to finish all 12 stadiums by the end of last year but five remain under construction.

FIFA President Sepp Blatter said last week in the governing body’s weekly magazine that any changes now “would be an admission of failure for Brazil, but also for FIFA,” especially considering the 12 host cities were announced nearly five years ago.

“This should have been ample time in which to complete the infrastructure,” he said. “FIFA can draw attention to omissions. However, responsibility rests with the local organizing committee.”

Blatter said he was “staying relaxed” because he knows “from experience” that delays are common in preparations for every World Cup and Olympics.

“At the end of the day everything ran smoothly for the most part,” he said. “All will be well.”

The Arena da Baixada stadium, being built by Brazilian club Atletico Paranaense, is scheduled to host Iran-Nigeria on June 16, Australia-Spain on June 23, Algeria-Russia on June 26 and Honduras-Ecuador on June 30.

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