FIFA's Valcke Says Last Minute Preparations 'Normal' Considering Late Delivery of Stadiums | Soccer

Days to go to before the World Cup and FIFA's secretary general Jerome Valcke says last minute preparations "normal" considering late delivery of stadiums.

FIFA's secretary general Jerome Valcke said at a news conference in Sao Paulo on Thursday (June 5) that the volume of Brazil's last minute preparations are "normal" considering not all the stadiums were delivered on time. The 2014 FIFA World Cup kicks off on June 12 when Brazil faces off against Croatia in Sao Paulo. The city's stadium has been one of the most delayed and costliest of Brazil's 12 World Cup stadiums.

On Sunday (June 1) FIFA did oversee a second and final test event at the stadium.

Afterwards officials admitted there is still work to be done before the stadium is fully ready for the opening match. Just 37,000 fans attended the test event, far below the 68,000 capacity that is expect for the Brazil-Croatia opener. Some parts of the ground have still not been tested with fans inside and others will undergo adjustments in the coming days. The stadium was supposed to be ready last December but is still undergoing last-minute preparation.

While both FIFA and the Local Organizing Committee continue to state that the 12 stadiums should be ready, Valcke admitted by the look of it a lot needs to be done. "It's true that if you go to Itaquera stadium it looks like there is around the stadium quite a lot of work still going on but I would say that it is quite normal and it's even more normal when some of the stadiums were delivered a bit late and it means that we had to do some work on top of what is done normally during this exclusive period for FIFA. In the stadium they have still to do and finalize the installation of a few seats in one of the stadium, they have to install the generators in other stadiums so there is nothing where we are at risk for any of the games which will take place over the next, during the first week of the competition," Valcke said.

Another worrying matter is that large parts of Sao Paulo came to a standstill Thursday after a strike by metro workers prompted people to take their cars to work.

It was the latest in a series of stoppages to hit Brazil in recent weeks. Police, teachers and bus drivers have also been on strike in search of higher wages, causing fears that the tournament, which kicks off Thursday (June 12) when the host nation faces Croatia, could be affected. Several activist groups have promised to launch protests akin to the those witnessed during last year's Confederation Cup when over a million people took to the streets to advocate for more public spending.

In Sao Paulo, the city's World Cup stadium is located at the edge of the city's metropolitan area. With road closures scheduled around the stadium's approach during game days, using the subway or train will be the ideal way to arrive. Another subway strike during a game day could wreak havoc in the city of more than 10 million. In light of potential strikes and protests, Brazil's minister of sport Aldo Rebelo said that everything was being done to be as prepared as possible.

"I am not going to place a diploma on the wall of my office in the ministry to say here is my degree in preparation - everything is ready. We have worked a lot up until now. We have mobilized all our energies, resources and spirits to the maximum so that things will be as close to the expectations. We are keeping the tension applied, our energies are mobilized so that everything necessary for the World Cup functions permanently and well the entire time," Rebelo said.

FIFA president Sepp Blatter, who waxed philosophical at times when asked to forecast how well the month-long tournament will unfurl, said that pleasing all parties is always impossible. "We cannot make everybody happy. All the philosophers in the world they have written books on that, it's impossible, happiness for everybody it's impossible but what is possible, what is possible is solidarity," Blatter said.

Brazil's 32-nation World Cup will competed in 12 different cities before ending on July 13 with the final in Rio de Janeiro. Blatter, who has indicated he will seek another term as FIFA president in 2015, refused to take a stand on possible term limits during the news conference. He said the Executive Committee meeting scheduled for next week in Sao Paulo might vote on the issue.




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"FIFA's Valcke Says Last Minute Preparations 'Normal' Considering Late Delivery of Stadiums "