FIFA confident ahead of World Cup despite issues

FIFA President Sepp Blatter

SAO PAULO (AP) — FIFA is “not afraid” things will go wrong at the start of the World Cup despite preparation problems in Brazil.

Football’s governing body said on Thursday it’s “in control” of what needs to be done to get the tournament off to a good start in a week.

“The general feeling is that we have done … all we need,” secretary general Jerome Valcke said after a meeting of the local World Cup organizing committee. “There’s nothing where we are at risk for any of the games which will take place in the first week of the competition.”

Local organizers presented their latest report on the country’s preparations and FIFA President Sepp Blatter said it was “confident” the tournament will be successful.

Valcke said it’s normal there’s still work to be done in some of the stadiums, including the addition of seats and the installation of generators. He downplayed the unfinished work at Itaquerao Stadium, which will host the tournament opener between Brazil and Croatia.

“It’s true that if you go to Itaquera Stadium it looks like around the stadium there’s quite a lot of work still going on,” Valcke said. “But I would say it’s quite normal, and it’s even more normal when some of the stadiums were late.”

The first time the Itaquerao will host a match with a capacity crowd will be the opener. FIFA usually wants three test events in each of the venues, but that wasn’t possible in Sao Paulo because of delays, including one caused by the collapse of a huge crane late last year.

FIFA again refused to directly address the equally troubled 2022 World Cup in Qatar, which came into question after a report by the Sunday Times in Britain alleged that Mohammed Bin Hammam, who FIFA expelled in 2012, paid football officials millions of dollars to support the nation’s successful campaign.

Brazil had seven years to prepare for the World Cup but it arrives on the eve of the tournament with a lot yet to be done. It’s already known that many of the infrastructure projects promised by the government will not be ready.

Brazil promised to finish all 12 stadiums by the end of last year as required by FIFA, but six venues missed that deadline. Half of the stadiums were ready for last year’s Confederations Cup, although they also missed several deadlines at the time.

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