Valcke optimistic after visit to World Cup stadium

Published on NewsOK Modified: January 20, 2014 at 1:00 pm •  Published: January 20, 2014

SAO PAULO (AP) — FIFA Secretary General Jerome Valcke doesn't expect the World Cup opener in Sao Paulo to be affected by the construction delays at the stadium where a crane collapse killed two workers last year.

Valcke visited the Itaquerao stadium on Monday to begin FIFA's first inspection tour of the year ahead of June's World Cup. He will visit three other host cities before meeting with local organizers in Rio de Janeiro on Thursday.

"In a way I would say the pressure is a little bit bigger here," Valcke said at a news conference at the Itaquerao. "It's the first game. It has to be a success. The world will be watching."

He said he was satisfied with the work at the venue and expects there will be enough time for test events after its completion in April. The World Cup begins on June 12 with Brazil playing Croatia.

"We will do all that we can to make sure this opening game is a success," Valcke said.

The Itaquerao made headlines in November after the crane collapsed while hoisting a 500-ton roofing structure, killing the two workers and causing significant construction delays.

The venue was among the six that missed the December deadline established by FIFA for all World Cup stadiums. The Itaquerao is not expected to be ready until mid-April, about two months before football's showcase event.

The crane that collapsed was removed last week but part of the roofing structure remains in place. Local authorities said the stadium is 97 percent completed, with nearly 30,000 of the nearly 70,000 seats already installed.

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