Dead­line ex­tended as Brazil­ian re­al­ity bites

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - SPORTS - By AGENCE FRANCEPRESSE in Costa do Sauipe, Brazil

Af­ter months of spec­u­la­tion over Brazil’s abil­ity to be ready for next year’s World Cup, FIFA agreed on Tues­day to ex­tend a dead­line for de­liv­er­ing three of the 12 host venues. World soc­cer’s gov­ern­ing body had in­sisted all along that it would not ex­tend a Dec 31 dead­line for all 12 sta­di­ums to be de­liv­ered to or­ga­niz­ers af­ter a fren­zied con­struc­tion pro­gram.

But on Tues­day, with the eyes of the soc­cer world on the north­east­ern re­sort of Costa do Sauipe ahead of Fri­day’s draw for next June’s fi­nals, FIFA pres­i­dent Sepp Blat­ter said late de­liv­ery would be al­lowed for three venues lag­ging be­hind sched­ule.

FIFA still has no date for when the Sao Paulo sta­dium will be ready fol­low­ing last week’s ac­ci­dent in which two work­ers were killed when a crane col­lapsed and dam­aged part of the stands.

In ad­di­tion, Blat­ter con­ceded the sta­di­ums at Cu­ritiba and Cuiaba would not meet a dead­line he had pre­vi­ously in­sisted was set in stone.

De­liv­ery of the sta­di­ums at Cu­ritiba and Cuiaba is now ex­pected for Fe­bru­ary, just four months be­fore the World Cup starts.

FIFA had pre­vi­ously in­sisted it would not al­low Brazil lee­way on de­liv­ery dates af­ter hav­ing tol­er­ated sim­i­lar de­lays ahead of last June’s Con­fed­er­a­tions Cup dress re­hearsal, when sev­eral venues missed the dead­line for that tour­na­ment.

Blat­ter said he was con­fi­dent the Brazil­ians would de­liver, even be­lat­edly, their first World Cup since 1950 as the gi­ant na­tion strains to re­vamp its creak­ing in­fra­struc­ture.

Sao Paulo “will be ready,” Blat­ter told a me­dia con­fer­ence, say­ing he was bas­ing his op­ti­mistic as­sess­ment on a new re­port.

“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,” said Blat­ter.

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.

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

Blat­ter said FIFA be­lieved it could trust the fed­eral gov­ern­ment, the state gov­ern­ments and the re­spec­tive city au­thor­i­ties to ready their sites in good time to host the event.

Brazil­ian sports min­istry ex­ec­u­tive sec­re­tary Luis Fer­nan­des in­di­cated the sta­di­ums lag­ging be­hind would be de­liv­ered “in late Jan­uary or late Fe­bru­ary”.

On Wed­nes­day, Brazil­ian sports min­is­ter Aldo Re­belo will be among of­fi­cials fronting pre-draw events where the host will stress it can over­come doubts about trans­port links, ho­tel prices and ur­ban crime.

Rep­re­sen­ta­tives from the Min­istry of Tourism and the civil avi­a­tion au­thor­ity will also ad­dress com­plaints about un­rea­son­ably high prices.

Other con­cerns fo­cused on ac­com­mo­da­tion ca­pac­ity, with about 600,000 for­eign tourists ex­pected to at­tend the month­long event which opens on June 12 in Sao Paulo.

Many Brazil­ians are an­gry at the es­ti­mated $11 bil­lion cost of stag­ing the World Cup — about another $15 bil­lion will fol­low for the 2016 Rio Olympics — be­liev­ing the money could have been bet­ter spent on im­prov­ing pub­lic trans­port, ed­u­ca­tion and health.

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