Jerome Valcke begins final FIFA World Cup venue tour
Rio de Janeiro, May 20 FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke has started an all-stop tour of Brazil's 12 World Cup venues as organizers race to ensure stadiums are ready for football's showpiece event.
The 53-year-old World Cup chief started his visit with Sao Paulo Monday to inspect the troubled Itaquerao stadium, which will host the tournament opener between Brazil and Croatia June 12, reported Xinhua.
The venue is one of the three stadiums yet to be ready for the tournament, with construction work also ongoing at Curitiba's Arena da Baixada and Cuiaba's Arena Pantanal.
Valcke said FIFA's operational teams are already at each of the venues to oversee the final stages of preparations.
"We have busy days ahead of us with still a lot to be done," Valcke told FIFA's official web site.
"I am here to see that the finishing touches for the FIFA World Cup operation are completed in time for kickoff. We will be focusing primarily on ensuring that all is in place for the 32 teams, the approximately three million fans watching the matches live in the 12 arenas and the billions watching the event on TV."
Local organizers hailed as a success the first test event at the Itaquerao Sunday, despite reports of leaks and a malfunctioning elevator.
Only 40,000 fans were admitted into the Brazilian Serie A match between Corinthians and Figueirense - 30,000 less than the stadium's capacity - due to unfinished construction work.
Arena Pantanal and Arena da Baixada are also yet to be fully tested as temporary structures continue to be installed at the venues.
FIFA will this week assume control of Brazil's World Cup stadiums until after the final at Rio's Maracana July 13.