FIFA insists World Cup is still on track


Thu, Dec 05, 2013 - Page 20

FIFA president Sepp Blatter insisted on Tuesday that preparations for next year’s World Cup in Brazil were on track, despite construction delays and a deadly accident, which mean three stadiums will miss an end-of-year deadline to be ready.

As the soccer world geared up for tomorrow’s eagerly anticipated draw, the world soccer governing body revealed that three of the tournament’s 12 venues would not be able to meet the Dec. 31 deadline for completion. One of the venues, Sao Paulo’s Estadio Itaquerao, was the scene of a fatal accident last week that claimed the lives of two workers who were crushed to death when a crane toppled over.

In addition, the completion of stadiums at Curitiba and Cuiaba is now set for February, just four months before the finals start in June next year. However, Blatter played down the significance of the construction delays, saying he was confident Brazil would be successful hosts of their first World Cup since 1950.

“We have just received a report. There are some small delays in construction of stadia, but so small that with one exception [Sao Paulo] we can say everything is ready,” Blatter said.

The issues are “so small we can close our eyes,” he added.

FIFA secretary-general Jerome Valcke said the stadium in Curitiba, which has been lagging behind schedule more than the other venues, would not be ready until the end of February.

“We are not in crisis mood,” Valcke said.

“Curitiba is the one where we are facing the most problems and it won’t be delivered before the end of February 2014. We will be ready to get the stadium by the end of February 2014,” Valcke said.

The Arena Amazonia in Manaus, in the heart of the tropical rain forest, also remains under construction, as does the one at Cuiaba.

Brazilian Ministry of Sports Executive Secretary Luis Fernandes indicated that the stadiums lagging behind would be ready “in late January, or late February.”