SAO PAULO: FIFA’s Jerome Valcke has said that Sao Paulo’s Arena Corinthians will be ready for the Opening Match at the World Cup finals but cautioned that organisers “don’t have a single minute to lose” to complete preparations.
Sao Paulo hosts Brazil v Croatia on June 12 but stadium preparations have been hampered by strikes and the deaths of construction workers.
Last month saw the death of the seventh World Cup worker, and the third at the Arena Corinthians, after falling 25 feet while installing flooring during the addition of 20,000 temporary seats to the stadium.
Construction work was already behind schedule at the stadium after an accident that killed two workers following a crane collapse in November. However, following a visit to Arena Corinthians on Tuesday, Valcke was able to report positive news.
FIFA’s secretary-general said: “I can say that the Arena de Sao Paulo will be ready for the opening match. The next key date now is May 17 or 18, which is when we will do the test event (a Brazilian championship match between Corinthians and Figueirense) and check the structure.
“This will give us three weeks to address anything that is not working. It’s a race against time and with only 50 days to go before the opening ceremony, we don’t have a single minute to lose.”
Five other World Cup ties will be staged in Sao Paulo, including one of the semi-finals.
The addition of temporary infrastructure at World Cup venues has proved a challenge operations manager Lucio Blanco added: “We are more relaxed now, as progress has been made with work on the temporary structures, which were subject to a tighter deadline, such as IT, TV broadcasting and the catering concession.”
Venues in Sao Paulo, Curitiba, Cuiaba, Porto Alegre, Natal and Manaus missed a December 31 delivery deadline imposed by world football’s governing body, with only the six stadia used in the Confederations Cup ready ahead of that date.
Sao Paulo’s stadium is one of three that is yet to be delivered, along with venues in Cuiaba and Curitiba.
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