RIO DE JANEIRO - FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke yesterday insisted Brazil will overcome delays to World Cup preparations, indicating that three unfinished stadiums, including opening venue Sao Paulo, will be ready.
Work has been halted this week on two sections of temporary seating at the Corinthians Arena, where Brazil will face Croatia in the tournament curtain-raiser on June 12, following a fatal accident last Saturday, the second at the ground in four months.
There have also been fatal accidents at the stadiums in Brasilia and Manaus, taking the toll of construction worker deaths to seven.
The resulting delays have fuelled fears Brazil will struggle to be ready with kickoff now under ten weeks away, given that the stadiums at Curitiba and Cuiaba also remain unfinished and amid doubts over who will pay for temporary facilities still to be delivered at Porto Alegre.
FIFA president Sepp Blatter, attending the Under-17 Women's World Cup in Costa Rica, Thursday insisted Brazil will stage an "extraordinary" event — while again chiding the hosts starting preparations late — and Valcke said he was just as confident.
Returning from a development seminar in South Africa, where he noted "positive footprints" left by the 2010 tournament, the first held in Africa, Valcke echoed Blatter's comments that Brazil are not the first host nation to scramble to finish preparations.
"I remember well all the doubts and criticism which accompanied the last few months of the preparations in South Africa and how the event staging was constantly put into question by the media.
"Nearly four years later, the common perception is that it was an outstanding World Cup," said Valcke.
"All the reports I receive indicate just how fast and hard Brazil is working now to complete preparations, not only for the World Cup, but also for improvements to the country's cultural, urban and transportation infrastructure that will continue to serve generations to come," said Valcke.