FIFA doesn't require 'new Brazil' for World Cup
FIFA on Wednesday indicated that not all of Brazil's preparations for the World Cup would be ready in time for the big kickoff in two years time but stressed it was not asking for a "new country" by 2014.
FIFA Secretary General Jerome Valcke - in hot water earlier this year for suggesting that Brazil needed "a kick up the backside" to be ready on time, forecast certain projects would not be finished but said he did expect the important things to come on stream in time.
"We will not have everything 100 percent (ready) for the Cup. We at least need 100 percent of the stadiums, that is for sure," said Valcke.
"We do need 100 percent of the infrastructure to get from the airport to the city and the city to the stadium, etcetera. But we don't need an entirely new country for 2014 - that's impossible," Valcke told a news conference.
"What we've been discussing with the government was that perhaps some of these projects are not so important for the Cup ... These projects can be delivered after the World Cup," he insisted.
FIFA has for months expressed varying degrees of concern about whether preparations -- renovation or construction of stadiums as well as infrastructure projects -- are on track for the first World Cup in Brazil since 1950.
A little over two years before the championship kicks off in Sao Paulo on June 12, 2014, nearly 40 percent of projects are yet to start and just five percent have been completed, the Brazilian government said last week, while insisting there was no cause for alarm.
Sports Minister Aldo Rebelo stressed for his part that numerous improvements are "not for the World Cup but for Brazil. Many of them were planned before we knew we'd been awarded the Cup such as the Salvador metro, the Fortaleza metro.
"Airport connections to the hotel sector, training centres - these are essential works and that is a responsibility which falls to the government," Rebelo noted.
Brazil plans to spend $13 billion on 101 projects to build or modernize stadiums, airports, roads and public transport ahead of the World Cup, but work has begun on only 60 of them, the government said.
An additional reason to upgrade physical and communications infrastructure is the fact that Rio will host the 2016 Summer Olympics.
Valcke said in his view "the important thing is that there will in ten years be a completely different panorama in Brazil and potentially part of the benefit of the World Cup will serve the Olympic Games and help the country to pass from one stage to the next."
He also insisted that the organisers and FIFA "speak with one voice" on how preparations were progressing and did not adopt the combative tone of earlier this year which saw the Brazilian government declare him unwelcome in the country.
Rebelo added that work pertaining to next summer's Confederations Cup which Brazil will also host in June were on track.
The schedule was unveiled earlier Wednesday in Rio.
Former Brazil star Bebeto, who is on the tournament's organising committee, meanwhile insisted that the Maracana stadium in Rio - undergoing a huge, long drawn out and costly facelift, will be ready for the Confederations Cup final.
"There will be no problem - Maracana will be shipshape, you can be sure of that," Bebeto told reporters.
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