FIFA begins final World Cup inspections
Thursday, March 20, 2014
SAO PAULO - With less than three months until kick-off in Brazil, FIFA and the Brazil 2014 Local Organising Committee (LOC) began a final, week-long round of operational inspections on Thursday for stadiums hosting this year's World Cup, even though three of the venues have yet to be completed.
After visiting the six stadiums which hosted last year's World Cup warm-up, the Confederations Cup, in January, the final round of inspections will visit the remaining six stadiums – in São Paulo, Porto Alegre, Curitiba, Cuiabá, Manaus and Natal.
LOC stadiums operations manager Tiago Paes said the inspection tour was a final chance to “consolidate operational plans” and would allow the various World Cup departments, from security to catering, to make sure everything planned over the last few years is in place.
First on the list is São Paulo's Arena Corinthians, also known as the Itaquerão, which will host the World Cup opener on June 12 between Brazil and Croatia.
But the 65,800-capacity stadium is now causing the biggest headache for the Fédération Internationale de Football Association, soccer’s world governing body, as it is still at least six weeks from completion.
The Brazilian construction company working on the stadium, Odebrecht, says it will be operational by April 15, but Corinthians, the soccer team behind the work, says some items will take longer, including some VIP boxes and the all-important big screens.
Curitiba's Arena da Baixada and the Arena Pantanal in Cuiabá are also as yet unfinished and work on both is expected to go to the wire.
Even if the stadiums are completed on time, there are concerns that temporary structures, such as those set to house broadcast teams and sponsors, may not be.
FIFA said its secretary general, Jérôme Valcke, is expected back in Brazil next week for a “series of meetings” to discuss World Cup preparations.
Inspection teams are expected to report their findings back to Valcke on March 27 in Rio de Janeiro.
The twelve stadiums were meant to have been ready by December 2013 to meet FIFA's deadline and allow for the venues to be tested but when the New Year arrived, six of the stadiums were not ready.
Host cities are now working round the clock to get both stadiums and associated infrastructure projects ready, or at least in some working form, for this June's much-anticipated tournament.
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