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FIFA boss insists Brazil will be ready

Sunday, April 27, 2014

RIO DE JANEIRO - Delays dogging World Cup preparations have been challenging for organisers but FIFA insisted Friday the event was on track.

"I feel happy we are close to the World Cup -- and finally we will be talking about football," FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke told a news conference in Rio.

Following a board meeting of the local organising committee, Valcke admitted the organisation had been difficult as "it is a huge event to organise."

He also forecast "different problems" for upcoming tournaments in Russia and Qatar.

But he said he would take all the more pleasure in enjoying a glass of caipirinha with Brazilian Minister of Sport Aldo Rebelo to mark the opening match.

"And on the day of the final, a bottle of champagne" and potentially a sixth champions star on Brazil's shirts.

Myriad delays in stadium construction in half of the 12 venues have marred seven years of preparations, causing FIFA to criticise the hosts along the way.

But Valcke insisted the competition would be worth the wait once Brazil kick off the action against Croatia in Sao Paulo on June 12.

"Yes, there are some delays which are making the final phase of the preparation difficult and a bit more tense," with just 48 days to go, Valcke said.

But he insisted that FIFA, come the opening game in a stadium which has come to symbolise the delays following two fatal accidents, would "have all what we asked to organise the World Cup."

Ricardo Trade, CEO of local organising committee, confirmed Sao Paulo would host a Brazilian league match as a test event on May 18.

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