FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke has stated his conviction that Sao Paulo’s stadium will be ready to stage the opening game of the 2014 World Cup after overcoming fears over the pace of construction efforts.
Valcke had in May backtracked on comments that Sao Paulo could be stripped of World Cup host city status by guaranteeing that it would retain its key position at next year’s tournament. Sao Paulo’s stadium owners Corinthians had hit out at Valcke’s warning that construction work needed to “speed up” ahead of the World Cup. Sao Paulo is scheduled to host six games during the tournament, including the opening match and one of the semi-finals, but construction chiefs at the city’s stadium had warned that a revamp of the venue would not be completed by December, as requested by FIFA.
Valcke is currently in Brazil on an inspection tour of some of the 12 host cities. After visiting Sao Paulo he said, according to the Associated Press: “I remember that during the Confederations Cup we had an emergency meeting because we were afraid about when this stadium would be delivered. And I can tell you that, yes, the stadium will be given on time and, yes, it will be ready to organise the opening game of the World Cup and also for test events here before this opening game.” Brazil’s Sports Minister, Aldo Rebelo, added that construction work at the venue is currently at 86% completion, making it the most advanced amongst the six venues that have yet to be delivered.
Another of these venues is Curitiba’s Arena da Baixada, which Valcke also visited. The future home of Atletico Paranaense will host four group stage games with FIFA being reassured that the December delivery deadline will be met with January 26 set as the date of the venue’s first test event. “We made a request to the city, the state and the club in relation to the progress of construction of the retractable roof, so that the contractual timeframe could be met,” added Valcke. “The three parties agreed and we can now confirm that the stadium will be delivered not only in time for the World Cup, but in December, allowing time for test events vital to the success of the tournament. That’s why we have left feeling really confident in Curitiba and its readiness for the big event.”