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Brazil struggles with its World Cup preparations

Published on NewsOK Modified: May 31, 2014 at 3:41 pm •  Published: May 31, 2014

SAO PAULO (AP) — Although expectations are high for Brazil's football team at the World Cup, it's already clear the country didn't do a very good job preparing for the tournament.

With two weeks left before the opener, there are still concerns about the country's readiness. Doubts remain about whether some stadiums will be fully ready, and it's already known that not all promised infrastructure work will be completed.

Organizers will also have to worry about the widespread street protests that are expected during the tournament with demonstrators already unhappy about corruption, poor public services and the billions of dollars being spent to host the World Cup and the 2016 Olympics.

Even though Brazil was awarded the World Cup in 2007, local organizers are scrambling to complete all the necessary work. FIFA acknowledged recently that it was "a race" to make sure the country delivers everything it promised.

FIFA President Sepp Blatter said there were delays because "there was no work for years," but he was confident "Brazil will be a well-done World Cup."

"We're very close now," FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke said. "Soon we're going to hand the tournament over to the players and the 32 teams. There is very little left to worry about. We just need to make sure the teams arrive safely and get to their training centers so they can begin preparing for the tournament."

Construction work at stadiums was still underway, however, including at the one hosting the opening match between Brazil and Croatia on June 12 in Sao Paulo.

All six venues that were expected to be ready by the end of last year missed FIFA's deadline. The other six had already been used during the Confederations Cup, but four of those also weren't ready when expected. One of the host cities, Curitiba, was nearly excluded from the competition because of the delays at its stadium.

Because the venues took so long to be ready, FIFA is now racing to install the temporary structures that are crucial for the media, sponsors and technical teams. Some of the host cities didn't want to pay for them even though they signed contracts saying they would.

The northeastern city of Recife didn't want to pay for its fanfest, which allows those without tickets to watch matches in public areas for free, prompting FIFA to say it could sue the city for breach of contract. It remains unclear if the event will happen.

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