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World Cup '14 stadium deal blocked by judge

May 11, 2013 at 5:10 PM

RIO DE JANEIRO, May 11 (UPI) -- A Brazilian judge has blocked the transfer to a private group of the nation's most famous stadium, slated to host the 2014 World Cup in Rio de Janeiro.

The Maracana, originally built to host the first post-World War II World Cup in 1950, has recently undergone a vast renovation in advance of the 2014 tournament and the 2016 Summer Olympics -- a $500 million public works project. Bids to operate the stadium were solicited but Judge Gisela Faria said the winners had an unfair advantage in the process, the BBC said Friday.

The winning bidders were in a group that includes Eike Batista, a wealthy Brazilian businessman whose company IMX produced a viability study earlier in the bidding process.

"Even before the bids were put forward, the principle of fairness among the competitors had been disregarded," Faria said in her ruling.

Several other multinational sport venue operations firms placed bids on running the Maracana but lost.

Gov. Sergio Cabral, whose administration oversaw the renovation and bidding process, said everything was "perfectly legal" and was "approved by the legal authorities."

Faria said a final ruling on the matter will determine whether the bidding process for the famed soccer pitch was compromised.

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