The global soccer tournament, followed by the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro two years later, will test Brazil’s aspiration to become a developed nation. But delays in building stadiums and preparing hotels and airports to receive more than half a million soccer fans could turn the event into an embarrassment.
In June Brazil will host the eight-nation Confederations Cup, a dress rehearsal for the World Cup.
FIFA has twice agreed to push back the handover deadline of four of the six stadiums to be used in the Confederations Cup and FIFA general secretary Jerome Valcke warned on Monday that there will be no further extension beyond the April 15 delivery date.
“We cannot go beyond this date. There cannot be any further delays. All the stadiums must be ready by then,” Valcke said after inspecting work on the new ManÃ© Garrincha stadium in Brasilia, where Japan play Brazil on June 15 in the opening game of the Confederations Cup.
Despite the warning, the giant Maracana stadium which will host the finals of both the Confederations Cup and the World Cup will not meet FIFA’s deadline as its owner, the state government of Rio, has already said it will not be ready until the end of May.
The ManÃ© Garrincha stadium in Brasilia is 87 per cent complete and builders are working round the clock to erect steel trestles that will hold up the roof covering 70,000 seats at the second largest of the 12 stadiums to be used in the World Cup.