SAO PAULO (AP) - FIFA leaders believe there’s still a lot left to be done in Brazil to successfully stage the 2013 Confederations Cup and the 2014 World Cup.
“There is a lot of work in the stadiums and a lot of work in urban mobility and the different infrastructure work,” FIFA Secretary General Jerome Valcke said Wednesday. “Yeah, we have plenty of work to do, but we will have what we need to organize the World Cup in the best environment.”
Valcke’s comments came after a board meeting of the local World Cup organizing committee and FIFA’s final tour of the World Cup host cities this year. The draw of the Confederations Cup is Saturday in Sao Paulo.
Valcke said 2013 will be a crucial year with Brazil hosting the warm-up competition in June.
“We are confident and 2013 is definitely a key year with the lessons of the Confederations Cup. We will see what we have to adapt and what we need to do in the remaining six World Cup stadiums,” he said. “We have a number of things to work on between now and April. We are now in the process of moving into the details, we are not talking about infrastructure in the highest level.”
Ronaldo, a member of the local organizing committee, said Brazil will host “an excellent World Cup.”
“We don’t have to talk about the stadiums any more, we know they will be ready,” Ronaldo said. “It’s time to start working about the details. We know the World Cup will happen and that the stadium will be wonderful.”
Valcke praised the level of understanding reached between FIFA and the Brazilian government. FIFA and the Brazilian government have been trying to show unity as the deadlines become tighter.
“The Brazilian government has been working very hard,” Brazil Sports Minister Aldo Rebelo said. “We know there are a lot of challenges, we know there is a lot of work ahead, but there is a lot of dedication.”
Valcke said FIFA has authorized Brazil to use the Maracana and the Belo Horizonte stadiums in exhibitions next June. The secretary general was upset this week after the Rio de Janeiro government publicly announced the Maracana would host a match between Brazil and England even though the venue would be under FIFA’s control at the time. Brazil is expected to play France on June 9 in Belo Horizonte.
The local organizing committee said more than 120,000 tickets have been sold for the Confederations Cup.
Valcke said FIFA was giving Brazil 50,000 free World Cup tickets to be distributed to Indigenous Brazilian and members of social programs aimed at the poorer population.
Earlier Wednesday, Valcke and Ronaldo took an urban train to Itaquera stadium, site of the opening match of the World Cup. Valcke said he liked the work done at the venue, which is nearly 60 percent ready.
Valcke also praised the work done in the southern city of Curitiba on Tuesday and at Rio de Janeiro’s Maracana, which will host the final of both the Confederations Cup and the World Cup.
FIFA leaders arrived during a tense week in Brazilian soccer. A local member of FIFA’s executive committee, Marco Polo del Nero, had his home raided in a police operation targeting financial crimes.
Del Nero has not been charged and denied any wrongdoing, saying the raid was related to an investigation on a company he hired for a personal business transaction.
On Thursday, the federation will announce the new Brazil coach, widely expected to be 2002 World Cup-winning coach Luiz Felipe Scolari.
The announcement of Scolari would give Brazil a representative in the Confederations Cup draw, when the team will find out who it will play in the opener.
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By Elaine Donnelly
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