World Cup goes to football-mad Porto AlegreThis Feb. 2014 photo released by Portal da Copa shows the Salgado Filho International Airport under construction in Porto Alegre, Brazil, January, 2014. Brazil's outdated airports were a problem long before the country was awarded the World Cup in 2007. Former Brazilian football (soccer) federation president Ricardo Teixeira used to say that Brazil had three main problems to solve ahead of the World Cup: "Airports, airports and airports." (AP Photo/Portal da Copa, Gabriel Heusi)
PORTO ALEGRE, Brazil (AP) -- Porto Alegre is one of the most tradition-rich football cities in Brazil, providing the perfect background for World Cup matches.
The city is divided nearly equally by fans from Internacional and Gremio, a cross-town rivalry that is one of the most intense in the country.
World Cup matches will be held at Internacional's newly refurbished Beira-Rio Stadium, and teams are expected to practice at Gremio's recently built arena, which could also easily host tournament matches.
The city of about 1.4 million people, a hotspot for German immigrants, is hosting four group games: France vs. Honduras on June 15; Australia vs. Netherlands on June 18; South Korea vs. Algeria on June 22; and Nigeria vs. Argentina on June 25. The Beira-Rio will also host a match in the round of 16 that will include the winner of Group G, possibly Germany.
Porto Alegre is the most southern of the 12 World Cup venues, so colder weather could be a factor in some of the matches at the 50,000-capacity Beira-Rio.
The stadium was in the middle of a controversy after local organizers said there was a risk the venue couldn't be used in the World Cup because of a dispute over who would pay for the temporary facilities required by FIFA. Football's governing body had to put pressure on local officials, who eventually reached a deal to guarantee the structures would be installed in time for the tournament.