FIFA’s top World Cup official has visited the delayed stadium that will host the opener in less than two months and says there is “not a minute” to waste to get the venue ready.
FIFA Secretary-General Jerome Valcke said there’s still a lot of work to do at the Itaquerao stadium, but added that it will be ready for the opening match between Brazil and Croatia on June 12.
He said local organisers are “running against time,” but they know there is “no choice” and understand they have to come through with their promise to finish all the work in time.
At the beginning of his latest tour of host cities, Valcke said there are “potential issues” with two other stadiums, one still being built in the southern city of Curitiba and the other in nearby Porto Alegre. He will visit Curitiba this week to receive updates from local organisers.
The Socceroos will face world champions Spain on June 23 in Curitiba, and Football Federation Australia boss David Gallop is among those who have expressed concern over the stadium’s condition.
The other stadium yet to be completed is the Arena Pantanal in the wetlands city of Cuiaba, where officials said that the official inauguration will not happen this weekend as scheduled because of a delay in the delivery of 5,000 seats. The venue’s opening should happen only in mid-May.
“There is not a single minute we can waste, because there is still a lot of work to do to,” Valcke said after checking the construction work at the Itaquerao. “We are running against time, but yes, the stadium will host the opening game and, yes, we will organise the opening game and all the other games in this stadium.”
There will be five other World Cup matches in Sao Paulo, including one of the semi-finals.
Work at the Itaquerao was significantly delayed last November after a crane collapse killed two workers. Earlier this year, another accident killed one of the workers helping install the 20,000 temporary seats that will be needed for the opener.