FIFA concerned with problems at Sao Paulo stadium

FIFA again expressed its concern with Brazil’s preparations for
the 2014 World Cup after local organizers said Tuesday they are
facing challenges to meet the deadline for the stadium which will
host the tournament’s opening game in Sao Paulo.

A day after one of the engineers in charge of the stadium’s
construction said the venue is not expected to be fully ready by
December as FIFA wants, local organizers said they are ”looking
for solutions” to speed up construction and finish the work on
time.

FIFA has stated clearly that it will not tolerate delays with
any of the 12 World Cup stadiums. Only two of the six
Confederations Cup venues were completed on time. The home of the
June 15 opener in Brasilia is yet to be completed.

”The technical teams of FIFA and the local organizing committee
have reinforced the tight monitoring on all remaining six FIFA
World Cup stadiums not only limited to Sao Paulo,” football’s
governing body said in a statement sent to The Associated Press on
Tuesday. ”FIFA is for sure concerned as it is vital that the firm
deadline of December 2013 will be kept.”

The main concern in Sao Paulo is the temporary seats which will
have to be added to increase the stadium’s capacity for the opener
in 2014. Twenty thousand seats will be added after the stadium’s
main structure is ready, improving the capacity to nearly 70,000.
The stadium will host six World Cup matches, including the opener
and one of the semifinals.

The construction company building the stadium, Odebrecht, has
told the AP that it will finish the main structure with 48,000
seats by the December deadline, but chief engineer Frederico
Barbosa told the UOL website on Monday that it will likely take
more time to add the temporary structures, which could be ready
only by February or March.

”The host cities, the federal government and stadium owners
have committed to this delivery date and acknowledged that for the
FIFA World Cup no comprises can be made on this not to jeopardize
the successful staging of football’s flagship event,” FIFA said.
”Something which is not only crucial for FIFA but for the entire
host nation.”

Sao Paulo officials are the ones responsible for the addition of
the temporary seats.

”The local organizing committee knows of the challenges that
the host city of Sao Paulo is facing to install the temporary seats
in the stadium,” the committee said in a statement. ”However, the
committee has been informed that the city is looking for solutions
to accelerate the timetable for the installation so it can deliver
the stadium and all the temporary structures by December this year,
which is the deadline agreed upon in contract by all six host
cities of the Confederations Cup in 2007.”

FIFA wants stadiums ready at least six months before tournaments
such as the World Cup and the Confederations Cup. This time it had
to make an exception ahead of the warm-up tournament because of the
series of delays in Brazil.

Only the venues in Fortaleza and Belo Horizonte were ready be
last December, and two others also missed the April 15 extension
deadline that local organizers had set. The stadium of the
Confederations Cup opener in Brasilia will only be delivered on May
18.

FIFA and the local organizing committee said last month that
”delays like the ones observed will not be tolerated for the
stadiums that will host” World Cup matches. It said ”the
flexibility observed in the deadlines for the FIFA Confederations
Cup will not be the same for the FIFA World Cup, when no exception
will be made.”

Football’s governing body said Tuesday that more than 588,000
tickets have already been sold for the Confederations Cup,
including nearly 58,000 for the opener between Brazil and Japan on
June 15.

The most sought-after match so far match is Mexico vs. Italy in
Rio de Janeiro, with more than 63,000 tickets sold. Almost 61,000
tickets have been bought for the final at the new Maracana Stadium
on June 30. Only about 10,000 have been sold for the match between
newcomer Tahiti and African Cup champion Nigeria in Belo
Horizonte.

The Confederations Cup is played among continental champions
plus the host nation and the World Cup champion.

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