SAO PAULO: UEFA president Michel Platini was among early FIFA executive arrivals in Sao Paulo who had a taste of possible things to come when they were caught up in transport chaos caused by a lightning strike of transport workers.
It took Platini and other senior directors of the world federations up to three hours to battle through gridlocked traffic into the city from the airport.
Simultaneously senior sport officials and politicians owned up to blunders in the planning and preparation of the World Cup.
One of the metro stations which saw one of the angriest of confrontations between commuters and security services was at the Corinthians-Itaquera station.
This is the junction which serves the new, just-about-completed Itaquera stadium which will host the World Cup’s Opening Match next Thursday between Brazil and Croatia.
The station was eventually opened two hours late.
A spokesman for Sao Paulo Transporte said that bus services at the station had not been affected directly by the strike but impeded from operating a scheduled service by the size of the crowds in the streets.
World football federation FIFA’s executive committee meets on Saturday and Sunday ahead of regional conferences and then FIFA Congress on Wednesday and Thursday.
Marco Polo Del Nero, president-designate of the Brazilian football confederation, conceded that construction work on the Itaquera stadium should have begun much earlier.
Del Nero, who succeeds Jose Maria Marin after the World Cup, had particular knowledge of the blundering in his role as president of the Sao Paulo state football federation.
He said: “Work started much too late. When a country is chosen to host a World Cup it needs, ideally, four stadia already in place and just four to build new.”
The problem in Sao Paulo was a financial wrangle because, for political reasons, former CBF president Ricardo Teixiera refused to contemplate redeveloping the existing Morumbi stadium. Hence work on the new home of Corinthians did not begin until 2011. Even then it needed temporary stands to raise capacity beyond the minimum demanded by FIFA for an Opening Match.
In a separate attack on World Cup organisers, Rio de Janeiro Mayor Eduardo Paes said it had a bad idea to use as many as 12 different cities.
Paes said: “We made a mistake. We should have fewer cities hosting than we have. All these delays have inflicted huge damage on the image of the country.”
Brazil is spending $11.5bn including $4bn on building of rebuilding its stadia.