Valcke: Brazil must be ready
Jerome Valcke (AFP Photo)
Sao Paulo - There will be no room for error in Brazil after ticket sales for the Confederations Cup begin next month.
FIFA Secretary General Jerome Valcke has said Friday that changes at this stage would pose significant challenges to organisers ahead of next year's tournament.
"This is a crucial moment for us organisers because once the ticket sales start it would be very problematic if a venue runs into challenges to be ready to host matches," Valcke said in his latest column. "And here I need to repeat myself when we speak about readiness. We do not mean the day of the tournament kickoff but with enough time to stage at least two proper test events."
The Confederations Cup will begin on June 15, and FIFA usually wants stadiums ready six months ahead of the first match.
"I know this sounds a long time but in reality it's not," Valcke said. "New venues particularly need more time to be fully tested at various events at different capacities."
The host cities will be confirmed by FIFA in Sao Paulo next Thursday, and it remains unclear whether the northeastern cities of Salvador and Recife will be included in the warm-up competition for the 2014 World Cup. FIFA said they had until this month to show enough progress in their preparations was made to have the stadiums ready in time for the test events.
The Confederations Cup draw will be in December and FIFA has prepared schedules with four and five cities as a precaution. Ticket sales will begin on Dec. 3.
Rio de Janeiro, Belo Horizonte, Fortaleza and Brasilia have been secured as hosts. The opener will be in Brasilia, and the final will be played at the Maracana Stadium in Rio.
"We must ensure that fans have an unforgettable experience without any logistical nightmares," Valcke said. "From electrics to crowd management, from stewards to public transport and parking management, all processes must be well established to ensure that come the FIFA Confederations Cup next June — when Brazil will be in the spotlight of the world — we will not face any major operational obstacles."
Valcke was in Brazil last month and expressed his concern over the slow pace of construction at some Confederations Cup stadiums, without naming any of them.
The biggest concern has been with Recife, but Brazilian government officials said they are certain the venue will be ready in time to host the event. Work at the Arena Pernambuco has been at a fast pace since FIFA announced its plan to include the city in the warm-up tournament. The 46,000-seat stadium was originally scheduled to be completed at the end of 2013 before FIFA changed the deadline to February.
The venue is expected to host three Confederations Cup matches. It will host five World Cup games, including one in the second round.
The Confederations Cup will be played June 15-30 among the six continental champions, the World Cup winner and the host team.
Seven teams have secured their participation: Asian champion Japan, CONCACAF Gold Cup winner Mexico, South American champion Uruguay, World Cup holder Spain, European runner-up Italy, Oceania champion Tahiti and host Brazil. The African Cup of Nations winner will be known in February.
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