RIO DE JANEIRO: Brazilian Sports Minister Aldo Rebelo has rewritten yet again the schedule for delivering the last World Cup stadia for the June/July finals.
As soon as ticket sales began last summer the Brazilians knew that they could thumb their noses at the notional December 31 deadline set by FIFA secretary-general Jerome Valcke.
A comic exchange then followed on the eve of the draw in Salvador at the start of December with Valcke, Rebelo and his deputy Luis Fernandes all proclaiming difference stadia delivery dates.
Rebelo’s latest version, in an end-of-year interview and compromised by fatal construction accidents in Sao Paulo and Curitiba, is not reassuring.
He said: “Preparing a World Cup involves two separate infrastructures. The first, which is sporting, concerns the stadia. Six were delivered in time for the Confederations Cup: of the other six, two were almost ready for December and will be delivered in January: Manaus and Natal.
“I believe that Porto Alegre will be delivered in January and Curitiba, despite the delay, should be ready in February or March. The Corinthians stadium will be delivered in the first half of April and Cuiaba, which also delayed, should be for the beginning of February.
“What I can say is all the stadia will be ready for World Cup 2014.”
Airports and transport
Rebelo could not be as clear about the transport infrastructure.
He said: “Everything is under way. Airport infrastructure designed for June and July 2014 is almost double the projected demand for the same period. What we need for the airports is to improve the operation systems because the capacity we have is big enough.
“As for the urban transport – trams, subways, avenues, bridges – everything will be delivered on the eve of the World Cup. Anything we could not deliver has been removed from our planning.”
The latter projects, according to Rebelo, amounted to only 10pc of the original proposal and he refuted criticism by the likes of Romario, the World Cup star turned congressman, that FIFA had behaved like a ‘state within a state’ in Brazil.
Rebelo said: “FIFA is not some sort of footballing NATO. It is an organization that brings together more countries than the UN itself. For example the UN does not recognize Palestine but FIFA does.
“This shows that FIFA can handle all the contradictions involved they have shown us great understanding and respect. There was one episode – involving some words of the secretary-general – but after that we have re-established a cooperative working relationship.”
Rebelo accepted that further street protests would erupt during the finals but believed the security services had learned the lessons of the Confederations Cup and would cope effectively – “guaranteeing the right of the fans, the public and visitors.”
The one concession from Rebelo was that he had considered quitting as Minister to stand for election for the governorship of Sao Paulo. He changed his mind under pressure from President Dilma Rousseff, accepting that – in effect – he was irreplaceable: he knew too much.
As Rebelo said: “What is different about Brazil compared with previous World Cups is that we are staging it in 12 host cities located in different parts of the country, each with its own challenges.
“All of them have different concerns. In one there are concerns with the hotel chain, in another with the airport, in another local transport but we all knew all this right from the start and worked to meet those needs.
“There is no reason to fear anything going wrong during the World Cup. There is no secret or mystery about what happens until then: just a lot of hard work.”
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