FIFA's Sepp Blatter Hopes Damaged Sao Paulo Stadium Will Be Ready By Mid-April
FIFA President Sepp Blatter said that the stadium that will host the opening match of the 2014 World Cup "will not be ready" until April 14 or 15, less than two months before the tournament kicks off, according to Andrew Downie of REUTERS. The Arena Corinthians was damaged last week when a construction crane fell on it. The announcement "came a day after the Brazilian government said the stadium would be ready in February." Blatter "did not give details but appealed to higher powers in the hope the stadium will be completed." Blatter: "We believe it is a question of trust and that it will be done. For the time being there is no Plan B and what FIFA can do now is ask God, Allah, whoever, that no more accidents shall arise in connection with the World Cup. That is all we can do and we hope the reconstruction can start as soon as possible" (REUTERS, 12/5). The BBC reported Brazil has admitted all its stadiums still under construction for the World Cup "will not be ready" by FIFA's original Dec. 31 deadline. Sports Minister Aldo Rebelo said the six venues -- in Sao Paulo, Curitiba, Porto Alegre, Cuiaba, Manaus and Natal -- "would be finished in January." Earlier this week, FIFA admitted that "three stadiums would not be be ready in time." But now, Brazil's sports minister has "admitted that all six will not be finished by the end of December." Rebelo "compared the World Cup preparations to organising a wedding." Rebelo: "In every wedding that I attended the bride was late. I've never seen a bride arrive on time -- but never saw a marriage that didn't go ahead" (BBC, 12/5). The PA reported Blatter announced that for World Cup games in hot conditions, match officials and the official FIFA doctor in the stadium "will decide whether to stop games for water breaks" (PA, 12/5).
BRAZILIAN APPEAL: The BBC reported FIFA General Secretary Jerome Valcke has "appealed to Brazilians to support next summer's World Cup," saying it would be the "wrong time" to protest. Valcke: "It is a right to demonstrate. For them, it's the best time. For me, it's the wrong time. A time where they have a national team who won the Confederations Cup -- a team that is the potential winner of the World Cup 2014. So there should be support from all Brazil for the organization of the World Cup." Valcke added, "We are not asking [them] to support FIFA, we are asking [them] to support the World Cup. Many of the protesters say the event is a waste of money at a time when there is a squeeze on living costs in Brazil." Some believe the public investment in the World Cup -- almost £8B ($13B) -- should "have been spent on schools, hospitals and transport." Brazil's three-time World Cup winner Pele "supported Valcke's call for calm next year." Pele: "I think the people should be very quiet and pay attention because this is a great moment for the country. It makes good publicity, investment, tourism. I think we have to be careful because it's a big opportunity" (BBC, 12/5).
U20 HOST SELECTED: The AFP reported South Korea was selected as the host of the 2017 U20 World Cup on Thursday. In a vote during FIFA's Exec Committee meeting in Brazil, South Korea "edged out" Azerbaijan for the right to host the world's premier youth football tournament (YONHAP, 12/5).