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Brazil may move Fan Fest venue

SAO PAULO -- The Brazilian jungle city of Manaus is considering changing the location of its Fan Fest venue because construction work may not be completed in time for the 2014 World Cup.

FIFA announced all the Fan Fest sites in April, but the government of Amazonas state said Monday that it is looking for an alternative location because it isn't sure if where the event would take place will be ready.

The news comes less than a week after FIFA Secretary-General Jerome Valcke visited Brazil and expressed concerns about the slow pace of construction at some of the stadiums being built for next year's Confederations Cup.

Local officials said work hasn't started yet in Manaus because “of a complex process” for obtaining the licenses needed for the project, which will be built where the Amazon River meets the Rio Negro.

It will take about a year to complete construction, and the government said work needs to start by the end of 2012 to be ready by 2014.

“The decision about the possible change in the FIFA Fan Fest venue will not be made until the end of November,” the government said in a statement. “The government is still waiting, but it's already considering the possibility of relocating the Fan Fest to another place in Manaus.”

The government said changes to the “structural project” are also being analyzed before construction can begin.

FIFA said that any changes to the initial project would have to be approved again by soccer's governing body and the local World Cup organizing committee.

“The city would have to submit a detailed concept, which would then be reviewed by FIFA and the LOC, as was done at the time of the selection of the first presented option,” FIFA said in a statement. “In this context it is worth to note that FIFA and the LOC only ensure that the requirements are met, but the decision on the venue is made by the host city.”

Fan Fest locations allow visitors to watch games for free on big screens, and several musical and cultural attractions are also made available. The host cities use Fan Fests to try to boost tourism.

The Fan Fest first became part of the official FIFA program in Germany in 2006, following the huge success of unofficial public viewing events in South Korea in 2002. In 2010, the event expanded so that not only did the South African host cities stage Fan Fests, but six other international venues also held events that welcomed more than 6 million soccer fans across 31 days, according to FIFA.

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In this June 25, 2010 photo, soccer fans watch the Group G first round 2010 World Cup soccer match in Durban between Portugal and Brazil on on a large video screen at the Cape Town “Fan Fest.” The Brazilian jungle city of Manaus is considering changing the location of its Fan Fest venue because construction work may not be completed in time for the 2014 World Cup. (AFP)

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