FIFA’s top World Cup official has turned up the heat on Brazil as stadium work continues with just 50 days to go until the tournament kicks off.
Secretary general Jerome Valcke visited Sao Paulo’s Itaquerao stadium on Tuesday and admitted there was “not a minute” to waste to get the venue ready for the opening match between the hosts and Croatia on June 12.
Valcke, part of a delegation that included Brazil star Ronaldo, said local organisers were “running against time” but insisted they knew there was “no choice” but to meet deadlines.
“There is not a single minute we can waste, because there is still a lot of work to do,” Valcke said.
“We are running against time, but yes, the stadium will host the opening game and, yes, we will organise the opening game and all the other games in this stadium.
“I can tell you that it will be a very tight schedule over the next weeks in order to be ready for the opening game, and more important, to be ready on time for us to test the stadium.”
Only one FIFA test event has been scheduled for the Itaquerao venue before it officially opens – a Brazilian league match in mid-May – but that will take place without a full 70,000 crowd.
Valcke also admitted to concerns about two other stadiums – the Arena da Baixada in Curitiba and the Arena Pantanal in the wetlands city of Cuiaba.
Curitiba’s stadium is due to host four first-round fixtures – including Spain’s match against Australia – but 27,000 seats are still to be installed, with 5,000 still missing in Cuiaba.
FIFA wanted all 12 World Cup stadiums finished at the end of last year, but only the six used in the Confederations Cup were ready.