Yes, this is an alert, but consider it a guarded one, as nothing FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke said today in Zurich, Switzerland, casts significant doubt on Sao Paulo Arena’s ability to host the 2014 World Cup opener . Providing an update on stadium readiness for this summer’s finals in Brazil, Valcke said two of the under construction venues are “quite late”, with the stadium slated to host the tournament’s first game on June 12 now another month behind schedule.
Though FIFA had previously hoped the venue would be ready by mid-April, Valcke confirmed new expectations have construction completed roughly one month before this summer’s competition kicks off. Given the site has already experienced a major setback when a fatal accident halted construction late last year, merely having the venue operational is the only goal.
“We are 104 days before the first game in Brazil, in Sao Paulo, in a stadium which is not ready,” was Valcke’s update to reporters at FIFA headquarters (as reported by the Associated Press), saying the venue would not be ready “before the 15th of May”:
“It’s true that whenever you receive something late then it’s a challenge to make this thing ready on time,” Valcke acknowledged, though adding “it will work at the end.”
“The goal is that on the 12th of June until the 13th of July everything will be working well,” he said.
Valcke made it clear he wasn’t criticizing Brazil’s progress, just outlining challenges. With a typical, finished venue needing 90 days of preparation to meet FIFA’s standards (read: signage and hospitality), both the Brazilian federation and Valcke’s subordinates will have to work overtime make June 12 meet their expectations.