Sao Paulo (AFP) – Two workers were killed Wednesday when a crane collapsed at a stadium set to host next year’s World Cup opener, raising fresh doubts about Brazil’s ability to finish work for the tournament on schedule.
Andres Sanchez, operations director at the Arena Corinthians site, said the workers, aged 44 and 42, were crushed to death when a crane hoisting a 500-ton metallic piece to the top of the roof collapsed.
He said the cause of the accident was not yet known but was under investigation.
He insisted that the overall structure was not affected.
The accident came amid a scramble to meet a December 31 set by football’s governing body FIFA to complete work at the venue.
A third worker was rushed to hospital with injuries after the accident, which brought a shocked response from FIFA president Sepp Blatter and condolences from the Brazilian ministry of sport.
“I’m deeply saddened by the tragic death of workers @Corinthians arena today,” Blatter said on Twitter. “Our heartfealt condolences are with the families.”
Work on the site has been suspended for three days of mourning until next Monday, after which 30 percent of the site will be closed to assist the investigation.
Jair Paca de Lima, the civil defense coordinator, said the accident might have been caused by “an error in the operation of the crane or by the weight of the structure which was being lifted.”
But construction giant Odebrecht, which is in charge of the project, said the crane was operated properly.
“The crane is capable of lifting three times the weight” of the structure, said Frederico Barbosa, the operations manager at the site.
FIFA, which has faced recent scrutiny over worker conditions at under-construction venues for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, later said safety standards for workers were “a top priority.”
Arena Corinthians is one of 12 World Cup venues planned for the tournament, for which Brazil has been struggling to overhaul its creaking infrastructure.
In addition to the opening of the Cup, the stadium will host five other games, including the semi-final, while the final will be played in Rio’s iconic Maracana stadium next July 13.
The reported $11 billion cost of staging the event has aroused public protests.
One site worker, Jose Mario da Silva, 48, told the G1 news portal the accident happened as most workers were having a lunch break.
“I had walked underneath this structure to go and have lunch. If it had happened at a different moment, many more people could have died — I could have died myself.”
Da Silva added that the accident occurred as “a crane was lifting the last and heaviest piece of the stadium roof.”
FIFA’s secretary general Jerome Valcke also expressed his shock and sadness in a tweet.
“Extremely shocked by the news from Sao Paulo,” Valcke said. “Our thoughts are with the families of the victims of this accident. We are currently awaiting further details from the authorities, who are investigating this tragic accident.”
“The safety of workers is the top priority for FIFA, the LOC (the Cup’s Local Organizing Committee) and the federal government,” FIFA said in a statement. “We know the safety of all workers has always been paramount for all the construction companies contracted to build the 12 FIFA World Cup stadiums.”
FIFA set a strict December 31 deadline for completing all 12 host venues amid fears Brazil will struggle to be totally ready.
Earlier this month, Odebrecht said the Corinthians arena was 94 percent complete, with the roof’s steel structure already mounted and the pitch laid.
About 1,500 employees are currently working around the clock to ensure the 68,000-seat stadium is finished on time.
Wednesday’s accident is not the first to hit preparations.
Work was temporarily suspended in the southern city of Curitiba after a labor court ruled that there were various safety breaches and a “serious risk of workers being buried, run over and of collision,” as well as being hit by construction material.
In June 2012, a constuction worker was killed in a fall at the new stadium in Brasilia and, last March, another worker fell to his death at the Amazonia Arena in Manaus.
A safety engineer at the World Cup stadium where a giant crane collapse killed two workers allegedly warned his supervisor of possible problems with the operation, only to have his concerns brushed aside, a labor union leader charged Thursday, as sniping over the accident heated up.
The incident has fed worries about Brazil’s capacity to host next year’s showcase tournament, as well as the 2016 Olympics, though authorities insist they will be ready for both.
Sao Paulo’s Arena Corinthians was slated to be completed by the end of December, and workers have suggested that speed was a top priority on the construction site, with many working 12-hour shifts and skipping vacations.
The stadium was initially scheduled to be part of the Confederations Cup earlier this year, but world football’s governing body FIFA scrapped the venue from the warm-up tournament because of financing problems before construction even started.
Antonio de Sousa Ramalho, president of Sao Paulo’s civil industry workers’ association, told The Associated Press in a phone interview that supervisors pressed ahead with the operation to finish the roof despite several rainy days that soaked the soil. He said the engineer warned his supervisor that it appeared the ground was not stable enough to support the 500-ton piece of roofing.
”To his surprise, he was told by the supervisor that nothing was wrong and work should continue,” said Ramalho, who declined to provide the worker’s name for fear of possible reprisals. ”They discussed the matter for a while but in the end the supervisor’s decision stood.”
Odebrecht, the powerful Brazilian construction company behind the stadium project and three other World Cup venues, strongly denied the claims, and a civil defense official said an initial inspection of the construction site a day after the accident showed no evidence the ground was unstable.
”Odebrecht and Sport Club Corinthians clarify that there was no warning previous to the accident,” the statement said. The company added that Ramalho’s union does not represent most of the workers involved in the crane operation.
Following a visit to the site Thursday, the civil defense official in charge of the inspection said there were no obvious signs that the ground was unstable.
”When we looked at it, it didn’t seem like the ground shifted, maybe just a few millimeters,” Jair Paca de Lima said in a television interview. ”Maybe after an analysis with the equipment we will know more.”
According to Brazilian media reports, investigators are also looking into human or mechanical error as possible reasons for the collapse.
Lima said only the area where the accident happened will remain closed, but work can resume at most of the stadium as soon as Monday, when a three-day mourning period ends. Constructors will be allowed to clear the crane and the metal structure after getting clearance from civil defense authorities, which is expected to happen soon.
The labor ministry later Thursday said constructors were prohibited from using the other nine cranes at the site until they can show ”safety measures are in place and there is no more risk of accidents.”
Ramalho, the union leader, said workers had been pulling long hours for quite some time in an effort to get the stadium completed on time, a point confirmed Thursday by loader Sergio Almeida, who told the AP typical shifts were 12 to 13 hours long.
Besides the Sao Paulo stadium, Odebrecht was involved in construction of the Fonte Nova stadium in Salvador and the Arena Pernambuco in Recife, both of which were delivered for this year’s Confederations Cup. It also renovated Rio de Janeiro’s Maracana Stadium, which will host the World Cup final.
A small part of the roof at Arena Fonte Nova collapsed in May from weight of accumulated water from heavy rainstorm. At the time, officials denied any structural problems with the project and blamed a mistake by a worker who inspected the roof.
FIFA said earlier Thursday it was waiting to learn more about the extent of the damage from Wednesday’s accident. FIFA officials and other global soccer personalities are due in Brazil next week for the high-profile World Cup draw in the resort city of Costa do Sauipe.
FIFA leaders have said repeatedly that there is no Plan B for next year’s tournament – particularly since nearly 1 million tickets to the matches have already been sold.
”It is too premature to make any detailed assessment on the situation of the Corinthians Arena as we are still awaiting the technical report to be able to evaluate the scale of the damage,” FIFA said in a statement sent to The Associated Press. ”We will be able to provide an update earliest next week following the FIFA Organizing Committee of the FIFA World Cup.”
Jose Maria Marin, the president of the local World Cup organizing committee, said he lamented the accident but was confident it would not significantly affect the opener in Sao Paulo on June 12.
”I’m certain that the stadium will be ready for the start of the World Cup,” he told Brazilian media.
Blake Leeper is a U.S. Paralympic athlete. The 24-year-old uses prosthetic blades and has competed internationally since 2009. He won a silver and bronze medal in the 2012 Paralympic Games and three silvers and a gold in the 2013 IPC World Championships. He was born without his legs below the knees. He also happens to be a huge Bo Jackson fan. But when Leeper appeared on The Arsenio Hall Show Monday night, he had no idea he would come face-to-face with the person he credits for being his inspiration.
Leeper began the interview with Hall explaining to the talk show host how the former two-sport star was his hero growing up. Leeper added that the 1985 Heisman Trophy winner was his favorite athlete even before Jackson’s hip injury that ended his NFL career. But it was Bo’s comeback in baseball — with a prosthetic hip — that truly motivated Leeper. The two met briefly in 1993 and Leeper asked anyone who met him thereafter to call him “Bo”. So when Hall asked that Leeper’s blades be brought out to the set, the young man was stunned to see who was doing the honors: none other than Jackson himself (cue to the 3:15 mark on this clip for the priceless moment). Jackson later revealed Leeper is the same age as his youngest son and said the pride he feels for the young athlete is the same he would feel as if it was his own child. With his sights set on Rio 2016, Leeper is attempting to become the first disabled American to compete in the Olympic Games.
By Israel Potoczny
Expectations are high for the 2013-2014 West Plains Lady Zizzers after going 27-2 and capturing a Missouri Class 4 district championship a year ago.
The Zizzers will have to replace three seniors, including starters Andi Haney and Hannah Riggs. Haney, now the starting point guard at Harding, averaged 19.5 points, 5.7 rebounds, 4.9 assists and 4.7 steals per game as a senior and earned All-State, All-Conference, All-District, All-Ozark Conference honors.
However, head coach Scott Womack says the cupboard isn’t bare as West Plains returns three starters and has a host of players chomping at the bit awaiting their turn.
Leading the way is all-district and all-conference performer Cassidy Johnson. A 5-foot-7 junior guard, Johnson is a standout perimeter player that made 62 3-pointers last season and averaged 13.6 points per game. Johnson didn’t start the first nine games of her freshman season, but has been a starter ever since and has averaged double-digit scoring both years.
“We are counting on her to lead us this year and step up her game to replace some of that scoring that we are losing in Andi Haney,” Womack said. “(Haney) will be a big hole for us to fill, but we feel like these girls being a year older, as a group, we can fill that void.”
The Zizzers also return a pair of players that earned honorable mention All-Ozark Conference honors in Shelby Acklin and Kelli Bowen.
Acklin is a 5-foot-9 senior guard that averaged six points and five rebounds last season, while Bowen was the Zizzers’ sixth man off the bench last season. Bowen is a 5-foot-8 junior that averaged eight points per game during conference play.
“(Bowen) really came on late in the year,” Womack said. “She is a difference maker because she is so athletic. She is one that we really need to step up and make a major contribution this year and she started showing signs of that last year at the end of her sophomore year.”
Also back is returning starter Breanna Harris, a 5-foot-8 senior. Harris averaged 4.5 points per game last season. Kendra Warren, a 5-foot-10 senior, is a returning letterman that will compete for time in the post. Junior guards Kelsey Collins, 5-foot-6, and Rachael Corsey, 5-foot-7, give the Zizzers an outside scoring threat.
Womack said 5-foot-7 freshman Payton Richards will start at the point this season. A talented player, Richards has already drawn interest from several college programs.
“She has played a lot of AAU basketball and traveling basketball and has played big-time ball and we are really excited about what she is going to bring to the table for us,” Womack said. “She has had a really good start of the season and is picking up on everything really well.
“I think she is who we are turning it over to to handle the ball and get us in our offense.”
Womack said several other players could compete for playing time off a junior varsity squad that went 13-3 last season.
“I know we lost a lot with those two senior starters, but we feel like the cupboard isn’t bare,” Womack said. “It is going to go back to how good our defense is and if we play hard at the defensive end, I think we’ll have a chance to be in a lot of games and be competitive.”
Senior Ashley Mason earns a third consecutive first-team honor
St. LOUIS – Three Missouri State volleyball players were honored Tuesday by the Missouri Valley Conference for their performance on the court and in the classroom. Senior Ashley Mason earned her third consecutive MVC Scholar-Athlete First Team nod, while and juniors Olivia Brand and Kaitlin Jaeger are repeat honorable mention selections following a vote of the league’s sports information directors.
Mason joins former MSU greats Cara Hackmann and Michelle Witzke as the only players at Missouri State to be voted to the first team in all three years of eligibility. The senior from Granby, Mo., carries a 3.91 GPA in business education and is a four-time MVC Defensive Player of the Week in her career, including twice this season, as she averages 4.82 digs per set on the year. That average ranks fifth in school history for a single season, as do her 545 total digs. Mason also ranks second in school history with 1,698 total digs, and first with 4.05 per set average.
Brand is an honorable mention pick for a second consecutive season with a 3.62 GPA as a child and family development major. The junior from Springfield leads Missouri State with 274 total kills, averaging 2.61 per set with a .209 efficiency from the outside. She leads the Bears with 13 matches of at least 10 kills, with a season high of 19 kills against Illinois State.
A Capitol One Academic All-District VII selection, Jaeger makes the honorable mention squad with a 3.79 GPA in political science. The MVC Player of the Week on Sept. 3 of this season and a second-team all-league choice in 2012, Jaeger ranks ninth in the conference with a .284 hitting percentage. The Webb City, Mo., native averages 2.01 kills and 0.59 blocks per set, and has led the Bears in kills four times this season with five double-figure matches.
A total of 38 student-athletes were nominated for the Valley’s scholar-athlete team. The criterion for the honor parallels the CoSIDA (College Sports Information Directors of America) standards for Academic All-America voting. Nominees must be starters or important reserves with at least a 3.20 cumulative GPA (on a 4.00 scale). Also, students must have participated in at least 75 percent of the regular-season matches. Student-athletes must have reached sophomore status in both athletic and academic standing at their institution (true freshmen and redshirt freshmen were not eligible).
Morgan Dall, Indiana State
Kaitlyn Early, Illinois State
Chelsey Feekin, Wichita State
Kelly Feigh, Loyola
Elizabeth Field, Wichita State
Shelby Kintzel, UNI
Sarah Madden, Drake
Ashley Mason, Missouri State
Taylor Pippen, Southern Illinois
Katie Reilly, Wichita State
Ashley Ring, Evansville
Ashley Rosch, Illinois State
Rachel TenHoor, Evansville
Alise Tupuritis, Bradley
Macy Ubben, UNI
Kathleen Vogel, Loyola
Amy Angelos, Bradley
Olivia Brand, Missouri State
Ashlyn Driskill, Wichita State
Brooklyn Hlafka, Illinois State
Kaitlin Jaeger, Missouri State
Katie Klages, Evansville
Molly Murphy, Indiana State
Amanda Platte, Drake
Lauren Zerante, Bradley
The Missouri Tigers improved to 5-0 with a comfortable 78-64 non-conference win over visiting IUPUI Monday night at Mizzou Arena.
Jabari Brown led all scorers with 24 points, including 5-8 from behind the arc. Jordan Clarkson was close behind with 22.
Tim Fuller wrapped his fill-in work for the suspended Frank Haith with a perfect record. Haith will return to the bench on Thursday as the Tigers face Northwestern in Las Vegas.
The Tigers jumped out to a 13-4 early lead and never looked back on their way to a 22nd straight home victory, 77th in a row against non-conference foes at Mizzou Arena.
Ja’Rob McCallum scored 14 points and Ian Chiles added 12 for IUPUI (1-5).
Mike Scott Reporting
Veteran lands four-year contract, provides offensive upgrade at shortstop
By Mark Sheldon / MLB.com
Still two weeks away from the Winter Meetings, the Cardinals weren’t expecting to have already checked the two biggest items off their offseason wish list — center field and shortstop.
The second piece of the puzzle that fit was shortstop Jhonny Peralta, who was signed to a four-year contract on Sunday.
“Much faster than we even anticipated,” Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak said on Monday. “We were looking at sort of exhausting all of these different markets to make sure that we were going to make the right decisions.”
Financial terms were not revealed, but multiple reports said the deal is worth $52 million. Talks first began at the General Managers Meetings earlier this month, but accelerated to serious negotiations quickly on Friday night and Saturday morning.
St. Louis acquired center fielder Peter Bourjos from the Angels on Friday for third baseman David Freese.
“There are still some opportunities for us over the next six, seven weeks as we progress to the Winter Meetings,” Mozeliak said. “But, if the clock stopped today, we’d be pretty happy with our club.”
Peralta, 31, hit .303/.358/.457 for the Tigers last season, with 11 home runs and 55 RBIs in 107 games. Assuming he maintains his track record, he would be an offensive upgrade at the position the Cardinals have been seeking. The price is certainly steep, as there weren’t many right-handed-hitting, offensively strong shortstops available.
“We knew center field was very important, but the shortstop market on the other hand was one that was not deep in free agents,” Mozeliak said. “There were really two being bantered about us. For us, it was really focusing on someone who could hit from the right side, somebody that was a steady defensive player, someone that had experience and could fit right in. We certainly explored the trade market at many levels, trying to see what we could do there, but the acquisition costs seemed very preventative for us to move forward with that.”
Cardinals shortstops — led by Pete Kozma – had a batting line of .222/.280/.303 in 2013, with four homers and 54 RBIs. While Kozma is a stronger defensive option and Peralta is not known for defense, Mozeliak felt the signing was for the sum of the parts.
“Analytically, this may be surprising to you, he graded out pretty well — certainly along the lines of an average shortstop,” Mozeliak said of Peralta. “You combine that with his offensive skills, all of a sudden he becomes well above average at that position.”
However, Peralta had a controversial 2013 season, as he served a 50-game suspension for his involvement with Biogenesis, a clinic that allegedly furnished performance-enhancing drugs to some players. He returned just in time to help Detroit in the postseason — albeit as its left fielder — and batted .333 (11-for-33) during the playoffs.
“There are always concerns,” Mozeliak said. “When you think about what you’re trying to build, a lot of things factor into how you put a club together. Character and makeup are something that we weigh into our decision making. But I think in his case, he admitted what he did. He took responsibility for it. At this point in the game, there’s nothing that says he can’t go play or isn’t free to sign with some other club.”
Because Peralta wasn’t given a qualifying offer by Detroit, the Cardinals do not have to forfeit a first-round Draft pick as compensation. But the club did go somewhat out of character in committing to an older player like Peralta for such a long-term contract.
Why did St. Louis agree to four years?
“As you guys can imagine, this is a lot market driven,” Mozeliak said. “Two [years] would have made a lot more sense, but that wasn’t possible. You have to sometimes adjust to what’s going on. Fortunately for us, one of the resources we did have was payroll flexibility, and we decided to deploy it that way.”
Peralta is a .268 career hitter, with 156 home runs and a .755 OPS in 1,383 career games with the Indians (2003-10) and Tigers (2010-13).
With Freese traded, it’s expected that Matt Carpenter will move from second base to third base. Peralta would likely be paired with second baseman Kolten Wong in the Cardinals’ middle infield.
Besides time in the outfield, Peralta has also made 203 career starts at third base.
Mozeliak anticipated that Peralta could remain at shortstop for the life of the contract. He also put to rest any speculation Peralta was signed to play third base, which would leave Carpenter at second base and make Wong trade bait.
“I could not envision [Peralta] being our third baseman next year,” Mozeliak said. “Part of what we tried to do over the last four or five days was create an opportunity for Wong. We accomplished that. A lot is being written about possibility moving him. There is no truth to that.”
Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Mark My Word, and follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.
By Jenifer Langosch / MLB.com
ST. LOUIS — For the second straight year, the Cardinals will host a gift drive at Busch Stadium to benefit the children of military families at nearby Scott Air Force Base.
The Cardinals are asking fans to drop off gift donations from 6 a.m. to 1 p.m. CT on Friday, Dec. 6, in the Ballpark Village parking lot across the street from the stadium. Unwrapped toys for children under 12 and gift cards for those 13 and older will be accepted.
The first 250 people to make a donation will receive a cup of hot chocolate as well as a coupon for a free pizza from Papa John’s.
All donations will be delivered by Fredbird at Scott Air Force Base during a Breakfast With Santa event on Dec. 7.
For more information about the initiative, visit cardinals.com/community.
Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, By Gosh, It’s Langosch, and follow her on Twitter@LangoschMLB.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.
The Missouri State Lady Bears (1-3, 0-0 MVC) return to the friendly confines of JQH Arena this week for a 12:05 p.m. Tuesday game against Quinnipiac (2-3). Well over 1,000 local students are expected at Elementary Day as the Lady Bears take on the Bobcats in a rare afternoon tilt.
The schedule continues to be a stiff challenge as MSU’s next two opponents won a combined 59 games last season. QU went 30-3 in 2012-13, and the Lady Bears pay a visit to No. 3 Louisville on Dec. 3 in their next outing. MSU is in a stretch of eight consecutive contests against teams that played in either the NCAA Tournament, WNIT or Women’s Basketball Invitational in 2013.
After Tuesday’s game, Missouri State will not play at home again until Dec. 15, when Lamar visits to open a three-game homestand.
Missouri State and Quinnipiac have never met in women’s basketball. In fact, Tuesday’s game will be the first time the schools have ever competed in any team sport. MSU’s only previous meeting with a current Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference school was a 97-89 home win over Canisius in December 2007.
Quinnipiac is 2-3 on the season with wins against North Carolina A&T and American and losses to Louisville, UT Martin and St. John’s. The Bobcats return four starters from a team that went 30-3 last season and advanced to the NCAA Tournament.
The Bobcats have four players averaging at least 10.8 point per game through five contests, led by Jasmine Martin at 16.0.
As a team, Quinnipiac scores 78.0 points and allows 81.4 while shooting 41.5 percent overall, 31.1 percent on 3-pointers and 68.3 percent from the foul line.
New Arkansas head football coach Bret Bielema said that he left Wisconsin and the Big 10 for Arkansas because he wanted to see how his coaching talents stood-up in the SEC, the top conference in the country. Well, so far the answer is not pretty.
The Hogs remained winless in the league with a 24-17 overtime loss to Mississippi State in Little Rock. The Bulldogs had never won in the stae of Arkansas, and the Hogs had never lost eight games in-a-row in the program’s history. Both those storylines changed today as the Razorbacks have not won a game since beating Southern Mississippi on September 14th.
Arkansas took a 10-0 lead, allowed the Bulldogs to tie it at 10-10, but then took a 17-10 advantage in the 3rd quarter on a 22 yard run by Julian Horton.
But Mississippi St. tied it in the 4th quarter on a Tyler Russell five-yard pass to Jameon Lewis and after missing a 42 yard game-winning field goal with 24 seconds left in regulation, took the lead on the first play of overtime on a 25-yard touchdown run by Damiam Williams. Arkansas failed to score on its overtime possession to match the Bulldogs as Brandon Allen threw an interception on 4th down to secure Mississippi State’s 24-17 overtime victory.
Joe Hickman Reporting