7 people died in a stadium collapse thus showing the sad state of Brazil's soccer arenas less than a month after the country was chosen to host the 2014 World Cup.
Seven fans died and at least 40 were injured when part of the stands collapsed Sunday night at the Fonte Nova stadium in the coastal city of Salvador. Victims fell 15 meters (49 feet) through a 3-meter-wide (10-foot-wide) hole that opened in the concrete.
"Unhappily a lot of stadiums have problems. Some are in better condition than others, but I think we could see another collapse like this if something isn't done," said Eduardo de Castro Mello, an architect who helped conduct a survey of soccer stadiums for a national engineering and architecture association.
The survey released on Nov. 1 found Fonte Nova was the worst of 29 major Brazilian soccer stadiums and expressed concern about several others. Mello said the Mane Garrincha arena in the capital of Brasilia, for example, would have to be almost entirely torn down and rebuilt.
"We were concerned with the structure of the (Fonte Nova) stadium, but nothing pointed to a tragedy of this proportion," Bahia state Labor, Income and Sports Secretary Nilton Vasconcelos told reporters Monday. He said he feared the accident harmed Bahia's chances of hosting World Cup games in 2014.
"We cannot say that we will come out of this process unscathed. Our image has been tarnished," Vasconcelos said.
Federal Sports Minister Orlando Silva de Jesus Jr. visited the stadium Monday and said it would likely have to be demolished.
"Fonte Nova was a symbol of Brazilian soccer," Silva de Jesus said. "I fear that yesterday was the last act of that history."
Officials insisted that safety will not be a problem during the World Cup because Brazil plans to build new stadiums and perform extensive renovations at existing ones.
Sunday's accident came as Bahia fans jumped up and down in joy after a scoreless draw with Vila Nova that won the team promotion to Brazil's second division.
The bleacher section gave way, sending victims falling several stories to pavement below. About 60,000 people were at the 56-year-old stadium, and many were unaware of the collapse as they celebrated.
Salvador - a major tourism destination - would almost certainly get some of the World Cup games. But Brazil did not include Fonte Nova as a possible venue in its preliminary list of 18 stadiums submitted to FIFA, soccer's governing body.
Instead, Brazil proposed building a new stadium for Salvador by 2011.
Brazil, which has won a record five World Cups, was awarded the right last month to host the 2014 tournament by FIFA. Latin America's largest country hosted the competition once before, in 1950.