FIFA's Jerome Valcke Still Concerned About World Cup Preparations In Brazil
FIFA Secretary General Jerome Valcke ended his latest visit to Brazil "with an upbeat message," according to Tales Azzoni of the AP. Valcke said that in a few weeks "he would be celebrating the start of a successful World Cup by drinking a 'caipirinha' cocktail with Brazil Sports Minister Aldo Rebelo." But it was clear that FIFA's top World Cup official "wasn't fully happy with what he saw in the country, where there was still a lot to be done less than seven weeks before the June 12 kickoff." All 12 stadiums "were supposed to be ready by the end of last year, but three remain unfinished." The Sao Paulo stadium that will host the Brazil-Croatia opener "was still way behind schedule." Valcke: "Yes, Sao Paulo will be ready, last minute, but it will be ready." Valcke arrived at the Arena da Baixada in the southern city of Curitiba, which was nearly excluded from the tournament this year, to find there was "still lots to do inside and outside" the stadium, including the installation of 27,000 seats. Lack of seats "was also a problem" at Arena Pantanal in the wetlands city of Cuiaba because of delivery delays. Valcke gave "a blunt warning" to cities struggling to get their fanfests organized, saying they had "no choice" and faced possible court action from FIFA if they did not fulfil their contracts (AP, 4/26).