Brazilian Sports Minister Aldo Rebelo has admitted he cannot guarantee that his country will be ready for the opening game of the World Cup on Thursday.
Brazil and Croatia are scheduled to meet in the first fixture of the flagship competition at Sao Paulo’s Arena Corinthians next week, but works continue on the venue following a string of construction issues.
Traffic chaos caused by a metro strike in the city is the latest issue to hamper progress, leaving Rebelo to confirm that everyone needs to pull together to ensure targets are met.
“There is no way for you to put a certificate on the wall saying you are ready when you are dealing with an event as big as the World Cup,” Rebelo admitted in a press conference in Sao Paulo relayed by AS. “You have to be prepared every day. Everybody has to be working 24 hours. We have done everything within our capacity so that things are as close as possible to ready.”
The stadiums in Natal and Porto Alegre remain a concern for Fifa following their final inspections, but the governing body’s general secretary Jerome Valcke has moved to allay fears that the tournament will be severely interrupted.
“There is a lot of work going on,” admitted Valcke. “But I would say that this is normal, and even more so when you consider the stadiums were delivered late. We are not concerned about the coming days.”
During the press conference, Fifa president Sepp Blatter refused to comment on the latest corruption allegations relating to the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, saying he will wait until the conclusion of former US attorney Michael Garcia’s independent investigation.
“All I can say to the people of Qatar is that in March we said we would not question the Qatar World Cup and we are waiting for the outcome of the report. I am not a prophet, therefore we will wait for the results and see what happens,” Blatter said.
The Sunday Times printed a detailed report last weekend claiming that former AFC president Mohamed Bin Hammam spent at least €3.7 million in attempting to win the votes of several African Fifa Executive Committee members in the World Cup bid process.