Fifa slams Brazil World Cup progress

2011-06-24 15:09

Fifa secretary-general Jerome Valcke today issued a scathing assessment of Brazil’s 2014 World Cup preparations, saying the future hosts still lacked stadiums, airports and transportation.

“They have much still to deliver,” he said at the Inside World Football Moscow Forum, a major conference on the hosting of football events, in the Russian capital.

“We do not have the stadia, we don’t have airports, we don’t have a national transportation system in place.”

Valcke emphasised that Fifa considers the awarding of a Soccer World Cup to a host country to be a final judgment.

But his unusually blunt remarks came after criticism of Brazil’s preparations by Fifa president Sepp Blatter in March.

“We cannot have a stadium ready at the last minute ... meaning that it will already be two months or two weeks prior to the World Cup,” Valcke added.

He unfavourably compared Brazil’s preparations to the progress of Russia, which was only last year awarded the right to host the 2018 edition.

“The stadia are the most important things. We are more advanced in Russia even than we are in Brazil,” said Valcke.

He expressed particular concern over the situation in Sao Paulo, the city which is hoping to host the opening match.

“Sao Paulo maybe will be ready just a few weeks before the World Cup,” he said.

“To deliver stadia is the most important part.

“It must not be a stadium which is ready at the last minute. It must be a faster process.”

In March, Blatter had already warned the Brazilian authorities, saying he was waiting for “a bit of effect” from the five-time World Cup winners “because it (Brazil) is not moving forward, it’s not moving forward very fast”.

“What they should do in Brazil is put a little bit more speed in the organisation,” Blatter had said.

By contrast, Valcke lavished praise on Russia, whose successful bid for the World Cup beat off favourites England and was championed by Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.

“The political support for this in Russia has been astounding.

“I have personally not seen this level of political support anywhere before.”

He emphasised that the current lack of World Cup-standard stadiums in Russia meant that it too had a major task ahead to be ready for the event.

“These three years before the next World Cup (in 2014) are the years for Russia to get ready,” he said.

“The best for us is that Russia is ready by 2016. For the time being, there is not a single stadium for the World Cup in Russia.”

He added, however: “Whatever Russia needs from Fifa, we will do it.”

Valcke was appearing at the Moscow forum after becoming embroiled in a controversy over Qatar’s successful 2022 bid, which resulted in him denying a suggestion in an email that the 2022 bid team from the Arab country were guilty of corruption.

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