SAO PAULO (AP) — FIFA's top World Cup official visited the delayed stadium that will host the opener in less than two months and said there is "not a minute" to waste to get the venue ready.
FIFA Secretary General Jerome Valcke said Tuesday there's still a lot of work to do at the Itaquerao stadium, but stressed that it will be ready for the opening match between Brazil and Croatia on June 12.
He said local organizers are "running against time," but they know there is "no choice" and understand they have to come through with their promise to finish all the work in time. There is only one FIFA-scheduled test event planned for the stadium before the opener, and it won't even happen in front of a full crowd.
At the beginning of his latest tour of host cities, Valcke said there are "potential issues" with two other stadiums, one still being built in the southern city of Curitiba and the other in nearby Porto Alegre.
Valcke visited Curitiba later Tuesday and said there is "still lots to do inside and outside" the Arena da Baixada stadium. He was not happy that 27,000 seats were yet to be installed and said that it's crucial the venue is finished in time for a test event on May 14.
"We have to make sure all is working on the 14th of May because there will be no other choice," Valcke said.
The other stadium yet to be completed is the Arena Pantanal in the wetlands city of Cuiaba, where officials said Tuesday that the official inauguration will not happen this weekend as scheduled because of a delay in the delivery of some 5,000 seats. The venue's opening should happen only in mid-May. Valcke will be in the city on Wednesday.
"There is not a single minute we can waste, because there is still a lot of work to do to," Valcke said after checking the construction work at the Itaquerao. "We are running against time, but yes, the stadium will host the opening game and, yes, we will organize the opening game and all the other games in this stadium."
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