Valcke praises work in WCup host city of Manaus

FIFA Secretary General Jerome Valcke continued his tour of the

host cities for the 2014 World Cup on Tuesday, praising the work

done in the jungle city of Manaus.

Valcke met with local government officials and visited the

44,000-capacity Amazon Arena, which will host four group-stage

matches in the World Cup. The stadium is 44 percent completed and

is expected to be ready by mid-2013.

”We are leaving certain that if the work continues at this pace

we won’t have to worry about not having the project completed in

time,” Valcke said. ”When Brazil was chosen as host it seemed

obvious that Manaus would become a host city. It would be hard to

imagine a World Cup without the Amazon involved. The Amazon belongs

to the world and the world needs the Amazon.”

Located at the heart of the rain forest, Manaus will be a major

attraction in two years, and improving local infrastructure for

World Cup visitors is one of the priorities for the local

government. Travel logistics will prove a challenge as the

northwestern city is one of the most isolated among the 12 World

Cup venues.

”The government doing is everything needed to make sure all

FIFA requirements are fulfilled,” said Amazonas state vice

governor Jose Melo.

Valcke will visit the western city of Cuiaba on Wednesday and

end his trip by participating in a board meeting of the local

organizing committee on Thursday in Rio de Janeiro.

The secretary general is expected to visit all 12 host cities by

the end of the year. He visited Recife, Natal and Brasilia in June,

and Salvador and Fortaleza in January.

He said the visits are important to allow FIFA to see the

progress on the stadiums and the general infrastructure, and to

continue to evaluate and discuss the preparation plans with local

officials.

Former Brazil striker Ronaldo and sports ministry official Luis

Fernandes and members of the local organizing committee are

accompanying Valcke on this week’s tour.

Cuiaba will also host four group matches in 2014. The

43,000-capacity Pantanal Arena was 46 percent completed in July,

according to local organizers. It is expected to be ready by the

end of this year.

The city is located in the geographic center of the South

American continent, exactly in between the Atlantic and Pacific

oceans. It’s also a popular tourist destination because it is

located by the savannahs of the Cerrado, the wetlands of the

Pantanal and the Amazon rain forest.

”This time our journey will take us to two very special places

in Brazil, the Amazon and the gateway to the Pantanal, perfect

examples of the beautiful diversity of the country,” Valcke

said.

In October, Valcke is expected to visit the southern city of

Porto Alegre and Rio de Janeiro, which will host the World Cup

final at the Maracana Stadium. Sao Paulo, Belo Horizonte and

Curitiba are expected to be inspected by the end of the year. Sao

Paulo will host the World Cup opener.

Brazil last hosted the World Cup in 1950.

The Maracana will also host the final of next year’s

Confederations Cup, the warm-up tournament which will also have

matches in Brasilia, Belo Horizonte, Recife, Salvador and

Fortaleza.

Recife and Salvador still have to show FIFA that it will be able

to host matches in the Confederations Cup. Local officials have

until November to show they can be included.

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