BRASILIA: FIFA has confirmed a six-venue schedule for next year’s Confederations Cup with hosts Brazil beginning their title defence in Brasilia – the only match in the capital.

The northeastern cities of Salvador and Recife have been included in the warm-up tournament but they have a mid-November deadline to show progress in their preparations to avoid being dropped. Local organizers say FIFA has also prepared schedules for only four or five cities.

The other host cities will be Belo Horizonte, Fortaleza and Rio de Janeiro, which will host the final at Maracana stadium. They will host three matches each. The draw for the June 15-30 tournament will take place later this year.

Cup schedule to be released despite uncertainties

SAO PAULO (AP) -FIFA will announce the match schedule for the Confederations Cup on Wednesday despite uncertainties surrounding the tournament in Brazil next year.

The schedule will be released at an event in Rio de Janeiro, but it remains uncertain where all the matches will be played because FIFA is unsure if two venues in northeastern Brazil will be ready in time to host the warm-up tournament in little more than a year.

FIFA recently approved six host cities for the Confederations Cup but has also prepared match schedules with four and five cities “to adapt smoothly to the actual situation in due time.”

Last week, Brazilian officials said only 5 percent of all the World Cup projects have been completed and just eight of 51 infrastructure undertakings will be implemented in time for the Confederations Cup.

FIFA Secretary General Jerome Valcke will be in Brazil for the announcement, marking his first trip to the country since a recent spat with local government officials following his critical comments about preparations.

The secretary general had been scheduled to come to Brazil in March to discuss the country’s preparations but the visit was canceled because of the spat. His last visit to the South American country was in January, but he met with local organizers and government officials earlier this month in Zurich.

Rio de Janeiro, Belo Horizonte, Fortaleza and Brasilia will host Confederations Cup matches, but there are doubts about the inclusion of northeastern cities Salvador and Recife because of slow preparations. FIFA initially said it would make a decision by June, but extended its deadline for another few months in order to see how the preparations progress.

A final announcement is expected when FIFA inspectors will visit the two cities again in November. The biggest concern has been with Recife, where the government says only 33 percent of the stadium had been completed by April. The venue in Salvador was 56 percent ready.

In Rio de Janeiro all five major projects involving infrastructure – at airports, ports and a highway – will not be finalised before the Confederations Cup starts, according to the government. Renovation at Maracana stadium is not expected to be completed before February 2013.

In Brasilia three of the five major infrastructure projects are not expected to be ready in time. Nor will six of the eight in Fortaleza while and eight of 11 projects in Belo Horizonte will be completed only in time for the World Cup.

Five teams have secured their spot for next year’s competition: Asian champion Japan, CONCACAF Gold Cup winner Mexico, South American champion Uruguay, World Cup winners Spain and host Brazil. The Oceania champion will be decided on June 10, the European champion on July 1 and the Africa Cup of Nations winner in February 2013.

The tournament’s draw is expected to take place in late November or in December, when the eight teams will be distributed into two groups of four.

Brazil is the most successful team in the Confederations Cup so far with three titles – in 1997, 2005 and 2009.

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