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Brazil airports a World Cup concern: Pele

Thursday, April 10, 2014

SAO PAULO - Brazil's World Cup ambassador Pele says he's concerned about the country's outdated airports less than 10 weeks before the tournament begins.

The country's greatest football star says it's worrisome how renovation and expansion is being handled for the airports that will receive World Cup visitors in June and July.

Although the country had seven years to prepare, Pele said authorities "are still building" the airports just before fans and teams start arriving.

His comments came after infrastructure experts said improvements at the country's airports won't be ready in time for the World Cup.

Government numbers show that improvement work is finished at only two of the 13 major airports that will be used in the tournament, although officials insist everything needed for the World Cup will be ready.

"It's a concern. I arrived from a trip a few days ago and there was chaos at the airport," Pele said on Monday in an event to launch a diamond collection honouring his career.

"There are two months left for the World Cup and they are still building it. That's why I'm worried.

"We had this opportunity to show that Brazil is a great country and that it is growing, but things are not ready yet."

As the government's ambassador for the World Cup, one of Pele's roles is to promote the tournament locally and abroad.

Industry analysts told the AP this week that Brazil has run out of time to meet its promise to fully expand and renovate its airports.

They don't expect total chaos when the World Cup begins on June 12, but said fans must be patient and brace for unfinished construction work, long check-in lines, flight delays and crowded boarding areas — all already common in the country's airports.

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