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Crane collapse at World Cup stadium leads to controversy

A safety engineer at the World Cup stadium in Sao Paulo, Brazil, where a 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.

Wednesday’s incident has fed worries about Brazil’s capacity to host next year’s tournament, as well as the 2016 Olympics, though authorities insist they will be ready for both.

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Sao Paulo’s Arena Corinthians was slated to be completed by the end of December, and workers have suggested 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 soccer governing body FIFA scrapped the venue from the warmup tournament because of financing problems before construction started.

Antonio de Sousa Ramalho, president of Sao Paulo’s civil industry workers’ association, told The Associated Press 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 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 Brazilian construction company behind the stadium project and three other World Cup venues, strongly denied the claims.

The civil-defense official in charge of the inspection said there were no obvious signs 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.

The labor ministry later 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.”

Probe of alleged match fixing leads to charges against 2 men

Two men were charged with conspiracy to defraud as part of an investigation into a suspected Singapore-based international betting syndicate that allegedly fixed nonleague matches in England.

Chann Sankaran, a 33-year-old Singapore national, and Krishna Sanjey Ganeshan, a 43-year-old with dual British and Singapore nationality, will appear at a magistrates’ court in Cannock, England, on Friday. They are charged with conspiring to defraud bookmakers “by influencing the course of football matches and placing bets thereon” between Nov. 1 and Nov. 26.

Matches played in the fifth tier or lower of English soccer, essentially at the semiprofessional level, are the focus of the investigation.


League fines Kidd $50,000

Brooklyn Nets coach Jason Kidd dropped more than a soda in an attempt to delay a game Wednesday. He ended up dropping $50,000 for the stunt.

The league fined Kidd, saying he intentionally spilled his drink on the court as a stall tactic.

Kidd bumped into Nets reserve Tyshawn Taylor with 8.3 seconds left in the Nets’ 99-94 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers, causing his drink to spill.

A video of the fumble showed Kidd appearing to tell Taylor to “hit me” as the guard walked toward the bench, and the resulting delay while the floor was being cleaned allowed the Nets, who were out of timeouts, to diagram a play.

Kidd denied any intent after the game, joking he had “sweaty palms.”


Scott leads Australian Open

Australian Adam Scott, who is ranked No. 2 in the world behind Tiger Woods, has a two-shot lead over No. 6 Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland after two rounds of the Australian Open at Royal Sydney.

Scott, who had a course-record, 10-under-par 62 in the first round, shot a 70 in the second and was at 12 under. McIlroy shot a 65.

Meanwhile, Morten Orum Madsen of Denmark led the Alfred Dunhill Championship after shooting a 7-under 65 in the opening round at Leopard Creek in Malelane, South Africa.


• American Lindsey Vonn squeezed in a little skiing, a step in the right direction for a return to racing after reinjuring her right knee in a Nov. 19 training crash.

The reigning Olympic downhill champion posted on her Facebook page: “First day back on snow since my crash and it was awesome!” She also attached a picture of herself — grinning — on an empty slope in Vail, Colo.

Vonn, 29, hasn’t ruled out competing in a World Cup event in Lake Louise, Alberta, next week.

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