KEIR RADNEDGE in COSTA DO SAUIPE —- In 1950 construction workers were still toiling away inside Maracana while Brazil’s last hosting of the World Cup finals was under way: Yugoslavia’s Rajic Mitic gashed his head on a girder and was still receiving attenton when his team went 1-0 down the their hosts.
Similar dilatory standards have been transferred to the 2014 finals but, whereas Brazil had only three years to prepare for the 1950 finals, they have been afforded seven years to put their house in order for 2014.
Chaos and confusion reigns around when, exactly, the four outstanding stadia will be delivered (a term which means the shell has been completed with all the fittings and furnishing still outstanding).
FIFA president Sepp Blatter has said the stadia work delays were “so small we can close our eyes” but everyone has a different interpretation of the how and why and when.
On Tuesday, in Costa da Sauipe where the finals draw will be staged tomorrow, FIFA’s secretary-general Jerome Valcke indicated timing concerns over the Arena Pantanal in Cuiaba and the Arena da Baixada in Curitiba, both of which stage four group matches (the plan for a retractable roof at Curitiba has long since been abandoned).
Valcke indicated that doubts also existed over delivery dates for Manaus and Natal as well as the Itaquera in Sao Paulo after the tragic accident in which two workers were killed when a crane collapsed.
He said: “We are not in a crisis mood, looking at an alternative to Sao Paulo today. But Curitiba is facing the most problems and clearly won’t be delivered before February 2014.
“The people from Curitiba attended a meeting yesterday and promised to organise themselves to get the stadium ready by the end of February 2014.”
However, 24 hours later, a brighter analysis came from Sports Minister Aldo Rebelo and his deputy Luis Fernandes.
Rebelo used his favourite and oft-repeated metaphor comparing the late delivery of the stadia with a bride turning up late for her wedding.
He suggested that the December 31 deadline would be missed only because of the complications of the Christmas holiday plans of state President Dilma Rouseff rather than incomplete work.
Rebelo said: “Out of the six stadiums that were not used at the Confederations Cup, three were supposed to be delivered in December 2013, but I talked personally with the governors. The delivery date proposed had been December 20 for Manaus, December 19, 21 or 30 for Natal and December 20 onwards for Cuiabá.
“Because of constraints in the President’s schedule, I asked for these three stadiums to be delivered in January. It is possible that one or two [stadiums] are delayed, but the most important thing is that they’ll all be delivered.”
It was then left for Fernandes to provide a less florid assessment of delivery timing.
Fernandes said: “The stadiums in Natal, Manaus, Porto Alegre and Cuiaba were ready or almost ready in December in time for FIFA’s December 31 deadline. But because of the Christmas and New Year holidays, the stadiums will be opened in January.
“In all, 10 of the stadiums are now ready, leaving just Curitiba and Sao Paulo which won’t be ready much before February.”
Originally Valcke had insisted that December 31 was the last possible deadline because of the time needed to furnish the stadia with all the support trappings demanded for a World Cup hosting. The new date for Itaquera is April 14 or 15, according to Blatter.