FIFA chief praises Sao Paulo readiness
SAO PAULO (AFP) –
FIFA Secretary General Jerome Valcke, who last spring caused a stir by saying Brazil needed a “kick up the backside” to ensure the 2014 World Cup goes off on schedule, offered praise Wednesday as he visited the new stadium in Sao Paulo.
Valcke led a delegation as well as 2014 ambassadors and former Brazil stars Ronaldo and Bebeto to the stadium on the eastern side of the Sao Paulo megalopolis and pronounced himself impressed.
“We have been very impressed in terms of urban mobility – we took the train to the centre and got there in 19 minutes,” said Valcke, who has been keen to smooth over relations with the Brazilians in recent months since his original criticisms caused a stir.
Earlier, addressing the Soccerex football finance and business convention in Rio he had spoken of the need for the organisers and FIFA to work together as partners in ensuring the World Cup is a barnstorming success as the country races to get venues ready on time.
“We have devised a way to work together – we are not going to fight anymore,” said Valcke – who nonetheless Monday had noted there was still “work to do” as the tournament draws ever closer.
He raised a cheer as he and organisers revealed that more than 2,000 workers who had been involved in construction of the stadium which will ultimately be used by Corinthians club will each receive two free tickets to a World Cup match.
Next June’s Confederations Cup, using just six venues involving eight nations including world champions Spain, Italy and Asian champions Japan – as well as Brazil – will act as a dry run for 2014.
Sao Paulo suffers from regular massive traffic bottlenecks but has been upgrading its public transport in view of the World Cup and the new stadium will host the opening match.
When the new venue is ready — it will not be in time for next June’s tournament — the ground will have a 65,000 capacity.
At present, the main structure is not far off complete but the roof still has to be put on.
Bebeto and Ronaldo, in their capacity as ambassadors for the Local Organising Committee, both said they were proud to see how the work was coming on as Brazil looks to prove to the outside world that it can stage major events.
“We are very proud,” said Bebeto, sporting a mauve jacket and tie, while a jeans-clad Ronaldo noted that “this is a very important sporting project — but an even more so on a social level.”