World football-governing body Fifa has been prompted to reassess how the World Cup is organised in future following Brazil’s “horrific” preparations.
With 69 days to go before kick-off to the soccer spectacle, Brazil is still a long way from completing its stadiums.
The Sao Paulo Arena Corinthians, to host the opening match between Brazil and Croatia, is still far from ready.
Last week, a construction worker fell to his death. That took the number of fatalities at the site to three after two died in November following a partial collapse of the stadium. Eight men have already died working on World Cup stadiums.
The stadium of Beira Rio in Porto Allegre in the south of Brazil is also unfinished, and could yet be dropped as a venue.
Porto Allegre’s mayor has said that the city may drop out if additional funding is not found to build facilities for media, sponsors and fans. The Beira Rio stadium is due to host five tournament matches.
World Cup analyst Dr Nikolaus Eberl believes that other stadiums besides the Beira Rio stadium and the Sao Paulo Arena Corinthians are in jeopardy.
“The third World Cup stadium in jeopardy is Cuiaba, which was staging its first official match this week with only half of its seats installed as organisers could only install about 20 000 of the 41 000 seats.”
Eberl fears that come kick-off, these stadiums may not be done in time, with no plan B.
“This week, Fifa secretary-general Jerome Valcke for the first time admitted to the spectre of World Cup stadiums missing the final deadline, saying, ‘we are not ready’, and that the stadium for the opening game is one of two venues that worry him most.”
Valcke, who was in Joburg for the Fifa-Confederation of African Football conference, said that the stadiums in Sao Paulo, where the opening game would be played on June 12, and Porto Alegre in the south, were far from finished. “We are not ready. We have two stadiums where there is still work to do.”
Despite the stadiums being far from completion, Valcke insisted fixtures would not be postponed. He said Fifa had been prompted to reassess how the tournament was organised following Brazil’s preparations.
“We will have to find a different way of working in Russia in 2018,” said Valcke.
Eberl said that there was a lot at stake for Brazil.
“Other than infrastructure, the single most tangible legacy of the World Cup is tourism.” Brazilian fans have bought more tickets than any other nation for the World Cup. More than a million of the 2 577 662 tickets available have gone to people in Brazil, with fans desperate to watch the country’s first World Cup since 1950. - Saturday Star