Brazil’s sports minister has dismissed the delays in stadium construction for the 2014 World Cup and said work in the northeastern city of Salvador will be completed in time for next year’s Confederations Cup.
Brazilian Sports Minister Aldo Rebelo visited Salvador on Tuesday and said he is confident it would be included as a host city for the warm-up competition next year. FIFA are set to decide by next month whether Salvador and Recife would host matches, along with Rio de Janeiro, Belo Horizonte, Fortaleza and Brasilia.
“Construction work is within the time frame, which should allow the state of Bahia to host the 2014 World Cup and the Confederations Cup,” Rebelo said.
The sports minister said construction work at the Arena Fonte Nova is 60 percent completed and it should be delivered by the end of the year as initially planned.
Rebelo dismissed an alleged report obtained by local media from FIFA saying that soccer’s governing body is worried about the “critical situation” of stadium construction in Brazil. He said FIFA said otherwise in a meeting with local organizers last week in Switzerland.
“What I have to take into consideration is the words of FIFA president Sepp Blatter, which go against this report,” Rebelo said.
Rebelo has been saying for some time that construction work in all stadiums is on schedule and that there are no major delays, but the report published on Tuesday by the Folha de S Paulo newspaper, Brazil’s largest, said only the venue in Fortaleza was within the time frame established by FIFA.
The report said there was a “high risk” that Arena Pernambuco in the northeastern city of Recife would not be ready in time for the Confederations Cup.
“All venues are within the time frame, there is no risk they won’t be ready,” Rebelo said.
The report also raised doubts about whether the stadium in nearby Natal would be finalized in time for the World Cup.
“There are still necessary adjustments in the design,” the report published by Folha said about the Arena das Dunas in Natal. “The deadline is tight and there is no time to lose.”
The report also said that only the stadiums in Fortaleza and Salvador have more than 50 percent of the work completed, but the government released numbers last month saying that other venues already had more than half of the work done.
The local World Cup organizing committee said the report published by Folha on Tuesday was developed in late April by local organizers jointly with FIFA’s special consultant for stadiums, who Folha named as Charles Botta.
“This document is intended for stadium specialists and can easily be misinterpreted if read out of context, and without knowledge of the standards and criteria of evaluation,” the committee said in a statement. “It’s impossible to make conclusions about the preparations based on a single report, without evaluating the situation as a whole.”
Some local watchdog groups have also recently warned about delays and overspending in Brazil’s preparations for the World Cup.
Brazilians officials traveled to FIFA headquarters last week and both sides said they were on the same page regarding Brazil’s preparations, although everyone acknowledged that there was still a lot of work to do.
Brazil is hosting the World Cup for the first time since 1950 and 12 cities have been chosen to host soccer’s showcase tournament.