FIFA official in Brazil to visit two World Cup venues
FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke, on his fourth visit to Brazil to assess progress in infrastructure projects for the 2014 World Cup, inspected a host stadium Tuesday in the northern city of Manaus.
Joined by Brazilian ex-soccer stars Ronaldo and Bebeto and representatives of the Cup's local organizing committee, Valcke toured Arena Amazonia, one of 12 stadiums that will host the premier sporting event.
The $260-million arena, with space for 44,000 spectators, is 42 percent completed and is due to be ready next June.
Early Wednesday, Valcke is expected in Cuiaba in the central-western state of Mato Grosso to see the $254-million Arena Pantanal, which is 46 percent completed.
That stadium, which will host four World Cup games, will be able to seat 42,500 people.
Both stadiums "are perfect examples of the beautiful diversity of the country," said Valcke, who was also slated to meet with local Cuiaba officials.
On Thursday, he is expected in Rio to meet local organizing committee executives and hold a press conference as he wraps up his tour.
It is Valcke's second visit since February when he caused an uproar by suggesting that the Brazilian organizers of the 2014 World Cup needed a "kick up the backside" to hasten lagging preparations for the event.
His comments triggered an angry response but tension between the two sides has now subsided.
FIFA earlier this year voiced varying degrees of concern over the extent to which preparations -- renovation or construction of stadiums, as well as infrastructure projects -- are on track for the first World Cup in Brazil since 1950.
But Brasilia insists that all will be ready for the World Cup kickoff in Sao Paulo on June 12, 2014.
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