- Associated Press - Tuesday, May 13, 2014

SAO PAULO — It’s all coming down to the final 30 days.

Brazil had seven years to get ready for the World Cup, but it enters the final month of preparations with a lot yet to be done.

Three stadiums are still under construction, some of the temporary structures needed for matches are delayed and it remains unclear if all cities will have time to organize the mandatory fanfests.

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It’s already known that not all infrastructure will be completed no matter how much organizers rush before the June 12 opener. The government acknowledges that communications inside stadiums won’t be perfect, unfinished airports remain a concern and there are widespread threats of violent protests by Brazilians complaining about the billions of dollars spent to organize the tournament.

Brazilian officials guarantee everything will be fine. FIFA remains concerned.

“All arrangements are being made to guarantee a successful tournament,” says Brazil’s sports ministry, which is in charge of getting the country ready for the World Cup. “The meetings to finalize the operational plans in the varied areas involved in the event’s preparations will be concluded this week in all 12 host cities.”

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Jerome Valcke, secretary general for soccer’s governing body, says there’s no time to waste.

“I would not say it’s not ready, but it’s not finished,” he said recently.

“You feel that the competition is coming, so there is an excitement,” Valcke told FIFA.com. “In the meantime, it’s important to test everything and making sure it’s working. The pressure is there to make sure we will be perfectly ready.”

The local governments have the responsibility of making sure everything is working to receive the hundreds of thousands of visitors expected for the monthlong tournament, from transportation to public services to security.

FIFA is worried mostly about the stadiums where the 64 matches will be played. It wanted all venues completed by the end of last year, but Brazil was not able to get half of them ready in time. Many will not host all the test events that were planned.

Among the three stadiums under construction is the Itaquerao, where the opener between Brazil and Croatia will be played. There will be some 14,000 guests among the nearly 70,000 people in attendance, including many heads of state.

Some of the 20,000 temporary seats needed for the opener are still being installed, and the only official test event planned for the Itaquerao takes place Sunday, about three weeks before the opener. It won’t even happen in front of a full crowd, with only 40,000 fans allowed into the venue.

“For the World Cup it will all be 100 percent ready,” said Andres Sanchez, who is in charge of the stadium’s construction.

Another unfinished stadium is the Arena da Baixada in the southern city of Curitiba, which was nearly excluded from the tournament by FIFA this year. The first full test at the venue is scheduled for this week.

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