ZURICH: Jerome Valcke flies out to Brazil tonight for his first visit since the storm over his comment in March that the hosts of the 2014 World Cup needed a “kick up the backside” writes KEIR RADNEDGE.

He does so with another crisis looming over how many stadia can be expected to be ready in time. FIFA may end up demanding that the Brazilians to draw up a new venues-and-matches schedule.

Such an outcome would be humiliating for the Brazilian organising authority (COL) in proving that its critics – such as old World Cup-winning hero Romario – had been right all along.

Sports Minister Aldo Rebelo, who has always insisted that it would be ‘all right on the night’, would find his own credibility seriously undermined.

Valcke, FIFA’s French secretary-general and World Cup progress-chaser, had grown increasing frustrated with delays in redevelopment work on the ground and in approval of the essential legal work.

He is more hopeful now that the essential legislation can be signed into law by President Dilma Rousseff and also after the government’s decision to place Luiz Fernandes, a senior Sports Ministry executive, in COL.

Leaks from a new report into the state of preparations suggest that 40pc of the scheduled stadia work has not even begun yet. In that case some venues must be considered past the point of no return – or rather, past the point of no World Cup matches.

Valcke, asked about the report after FIFA Congress in Budapest, said: “We are aware that the Brazilian government is releasing a report about the state of work in the stadia and we need to check whether some of them are not key to the organisation of the World Cup.

“In that case we need to make sure we put all our energy into the ones which are key to the organisation of the World Cup.”

FIFA president Sepp Blatter has not been far behind Valcke in expressing his disappointment with Brazil. With restrained understatement, he said: “It’s not all proving as easy as we had hoped it would be.”

Valcke is scheduled to return to Brazil again at the end of the month.


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