FIFA warns Brazil's WC organizers
RIO DE JANEIRO (AP)
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With the World Cup less than a year away, FIFA pledged to increase its monitoring of stadium construction in Brazil. The world governing body wants all 12 stadiums ready for the June 2014 kickoff of soccer's showcase event, FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke said Friday.
There were several delays in stadium delivery for the Confederations Cup this year, and FIFA has made it clear that it will not tolerate the same problems again. Brazil needs to deliver the final six World Cup venues by the end of the year.
Valcke said the Confederations Cup was a success. But he admitted there were ''a few challenges and deficiencies'' that need to be addressed for next year.
''For us organizers a key focus is now on the 12 stadia, with a tighter monitoring naturally on the six arenas still under construction,'' Valcke said in his monthly column released by FIFA. ''The essential key to success of next year's flagship event is that we can start setting up the complementary infrastructure ... as of early 2014 across all stadia - earlier than we managed for the Confederations Cup in order to allow time for proper testing and adjustments.''
Only two of the six Confederations Cup venues were completed by the original December deadline set up by FIFA for the warm-up tournament. Some were only delivered just before the start of competition. There was a lot of unfinished infrastructure work around nearly all of the venues, and local organizers weren't able to host the ideal number of test events at the stadiums.
''You cannot expect everything to run perfectly in brand new stadia,'' Valcke said. ''That is where we will concentrate our efforts, as we seek to ensure the FIFA World Cup will be a roaring success for the teams, the fans and, most importantly, for the host nation Brazil.''
The secretary general said assessments were made after the Confederations Cup about what ''we have learned, and we are set to strengthen any weak links'' over the next few months.
''The preparations for football's flagship event have now really grown into a huge collective undertaking between sports and host country stakeholders, as the works continue apace,'' Valcke said. ''There is only 11 months to go before the whistle is blown in Sao Paulo for the opening match and the tournament can start for real.''
Valcke plans to visit Brazil from Aug. 19-22 to inspect work in Sao Paulo, Curitiba and Manaus.
Tickets for the World Cup will go on sale Aug. 20. The tournament's draw is set for Dec. 6, when the 32 nation will know their opponents during the group stage.
Olympic organizers say they may have to use $700 million in government money to meet the operating budget for the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Games.
Leo Gryner, chief operating officer of the organizing committee, said Friday that as conditions now stand ''we need this $700 million.'' Gryner told The Associated Press earlier this week the operating budget could be as much as $4 billion. The original budget estimate of $2.8 billion was submitted before Rio won the games in 2009.
The operating budget is used to run the games and is separate from the capital budget, a mix of private and public money used to build needed infrastructure. Gryner says any shortfall was caused by inflation and Brazil's slowing economy.