May 30, 2013
Rio de Janeiro's Maracana stadium had been undergoing renovations recently.

RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) -- A judge has canceled Brazil's soccer friendly against England scheduled for Sunday at Rio de Janeiro's newly renovated Maracana stadium, saying the venue is unsafe.

The state government of Rio de Janeiro said it will appeal the cancellation Thursday by Judge Adriana Costa dos Santos. The government said the stadium meets all the safety standards required.

The government said the problems were due to a "bureaucratic error,'' and said a report showing the stadium is safe wasn't delivered to the proper authorities.

The cancellation would be a blow to Brazil and its plan to organize the Confederations Cup - which opens June 15 - and raise questions about the South American nation's ability to organize next year's World Cup and the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics.

The eight-team Confederations Cup, and next year's 32-team World Cup, have been plagued by delays in getting stadiums ready. The preparations have received open criticism from FIFA, the governing body of world soccer.

The six stadiums being used for the Confederations Cup - a warmup for the World Cup - are in various stages of readiness.

FIFA Secretary General Jerome Valcke was in Brazil earlier this month to check on venues. He's acknowledged the Confederations Cup will be a maze of unfinished work and admitted that "not all operational arrangements will be 100 percent,'' then warned "this will be impossible to repeat for the FIFA World Cup.''

The Maracana stadium in Rio is to host the Confederation Cup final on June 30, and will be the venue for the World Cup final next year.

Brazil President Dilma Rousseff this week offered praised for the six Confederation Cup venues, including Maracana.

"Many people did not think we would be able to build these stadiums before the Confederations Cup at the standards required by FIFA,'' Rousseff said.

She made reference to what she called the "old-mutt'' complex, a sense that Brazil lacked confidence and would fail to meet the challenge.

"But the workers who built these stadiums, the businessmen hired to do these works and all the governments involved have proved that Brazil is able to accept challenges and fulfill promptly commitments undertaken.''

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