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Valcke Content With Stadium Progress, But Concerns Remain Over Maracana

Written by Sebastien on 08 March 2013. Posted in World Cup Blog

FIFA Secretary General Jerome Valcke came away content that the six stadiums scheduled to host matches at this summer’s Confederations Cup will be ready in time following a whirlwind three-day tour of the venues last week. This despite flooding causing further problems for the re-development of the legendary Maracanã stadium in Rio de Janeiro.

Valcke travelled to Brazil to check on the progress of the stadiums, which were originally due to be completed by November last year. The Estádio Governador Magalhães Pinto in Belo Horizonte and the Estádio Governador Plácido Aderaldo Castelo in Fortaleza have subsequently been completed, but the stadiums in Brasília, Recife, Rio and Salvador are still outstanding.

Local organisers negotiated an extension of the original deadline to the 15th April 2013, and having visited the sites Valcke is content that at least three of the remaining stadiums will be completed by that date or soon afterwards. FIFA would like each venue to have hosted at least two test events prior to the Confederations Cup, which kicks off at the Estádio Nacional in Brasília on the 15th June.

Valcke was especially impressed with progress at the Arena Pernambuco in Recife, where efforts are being made to finish work by the end of March. “I would like congratulate Recife for the work that has been done here,” he commented at a press conference after his tour of the stadium. “This project is an extension of Recife, a new part of the city and will bring new quality of life. I am very happy for that, it is a very important program.”

He would, however, have been less enthused at developments at the Maracanã in Rio. The heavy rain that befell the city and resulted in four deaths also flooded the construction site at the stadium, bringing work to a halt. The construction process was also temporarily stopped last month by a short strike from workers demanding better rewards for their labour. The combined loss of time has put work at the stadium further behind schedule.

Valcke admitted to local media that FIFA were “really concerned,” about the Maracaña, but Rio authorities assured him that the flooding was just a minor setback and that the stadium would be completed by the end of April. England are due to visit for a friendly on the 2nd June, 14 days before the stadium is due to host its first match of the Confederations Cup, the well-subscribed Group A fixture between Mexico and Italy.

Valcke remained pragmatic when summing up his visit. "You will always want perfection," he explained at a press conference in São Paulo. "You want to be ready 100 days prior to the competition. You want to have nothing to look at because all is ready to be opened or to be used 100 days before the competition. But we know that it is not the way it works. It is rare that things are on time."

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