KEIR RADNEDGE in ZURICH: FIFA is ramping up its defences over the Brazilian organisation, or lack of it, of the World Cup.
Half of the 12 stadia projects missed the December 31 delivery deadline, airport upgrades are behind time and prices of the inadequate flight schedules are rocketing.
As if that was not gloomy enough, security and sports officials all expect a resumption of the street protests which scarred last year’s Confederations Cup.
Eight days ago FIFA president Sepp Blatter savaged the slow rate of preparation work and secretary-general Jerome Valcke followed up with a further salvo over the weekend.
The conclusion being drawn by the Brazilian media is that FIFA, fearing chaos in June and July, is engaged in a damage limitation exercise which involves hanging the hosts out to dry.
Valcke has unparalleled knowledge of the Brazilian World Cup. Not only is he Blatter’s progress-chaser-in-chief but he drew up the original bid proposal for the Brazilians back in the spring of 2007 when he was, effectively, on ‘gardening leave’ from FIFA.
He spoke out in an interview with the French radio channel France Bleu.
Valcke said: “The big problem is that we will not have time now for stadium test matches. This is what we have always warned. The stadiums will be delivered too close to the kickoff of the first match.
“We started with an infrastructure which is not up to the mark and knowing it is critical to ensure a better flow of people from the airports to the cities, towns to stadia, etc.
“Certainly there will be problems, since this is a country the size of a continent.”
Valcke also expressed concern about the return of street protests around the matches. He said: “We do not know what to expect from the reaction on the streets.”
Asked about Blatter’s views, Valcke said: “No World Cup is easy to organise, as the president said. He was certainly not mistaken when he said that some things could have been done much earlier. No-one can say this was not a valid criticism.”