Brazil official admits to faulty cell phone coverage at World Cup stadiums
MAY 01, 2014 9:03p ET
SAO PAULO --
Brazil's top communications official admits some soccer fans will not be able to access the Internet on their cell phones inside some World Cup stadiums.
Communications Minister Paulo Bernardo says there was no time to install the necessary equipment to boost data services in some of the 12 stadiums, including the one hosting the June 12 opener.
Bernardo told a congressional hearing Wednesday that it will also ''be very difficult to offer good-quality services'' at the Arena da Baixada in the southern city of Curitiba and at the Mineirao Stadium in central Belo Horizonte. The stadiums in Curitiba and Sao Paulo are yet to be completed.
Bernardo told Brazil's official news agency Agencia Brasil that fans will have to rely on 3G data coverage, which is already deficient across the country.
Problems persisted in last year's FIFA Confederations Cup tournament. FIFA Secretary General Jerome Valcke issued a blunt warning to Brazil World Cup organizers last week.
"We don't want Brazil to be remembered as the worst World Cup of all time because the journalists could not get their stories out to the rest of the world," Valcke said.
Aside from the communication issues, Valcke expressed his concern regarding the completion of fanfest zones, which allows fans without tickets to watch matches for free on large screens in public areas.
"The cities who have not yet committed to have their own fanfest, it's a mistake, and they have to do it, there is no choice," Valcke said after visiting the fanfest site in the northeastern city of Fortaleza. "There must be a fanfest in each of the 12 host cities in Brazil. That's a must."
The fanfests are just one of the concerns for FIFA as Brazil struggles to get ready for the World Cup with seven weeks until the June 12 opener. Infrastructure work and three of the stadiums are yet to be completed, including the one hosting the opener between Brazil and Croatia.