ZURICH (AP) — The Sao Paulo stadium which hosts the opening match of the World Cup will not be finished until less than four weeks before Brazil plays Croatia on June 12.
Confirming further delays Saturday, FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke said the venue would not be ready "before the 15th of May." "We are 104 days before the first game in Brazil, in Sao Paulo, in a stadium which is not ready," Valcke told reporters.
FIFA had hoped to get the Itaquerao stadium in mid-April, following delays when a crane collapsed in November killing two workers. Referring to host cities Sao Paulo and Curitiba, Valcke said two of the 12 World Cup stadiums were "quite late."
Arena da Baixada in the southern city of Curitiba was reprieved two weeks ago after threats it could be cut from the tournament. It is also scheduled to be handed over to FIFA in mid-May. "It's true that whenever you receive something late then it's a challenge to make this thing ready on time," Valcke acknowledged, though adding "it will work at the end."
"The goal is that on the 12th of June until the 13th of July everything will be working well," he said. Valcke said the expected stadium delivery dates were not deadlines, but instead a matter of completing outstanding work to prepare the venues to host matches, media and sponsors. Equipping a stadium to World Cup working standards requires 90 days.
"We have to work in conditions where the cement is not even dry (and) we already put things in place," the FIFA official said. The World Cup had "full support" from Brazil President Dilma Rousseff and different levels of city, state and federal government bodies, Valcke said.
Despite often strained relations with Brazilian football and political authorities over World Cup preparations, Valcke said his latest observations were not negative. "There is no criticism, there is just a challenge," he said at FIFA headquarters. "For sure the stadiums are beautiful. It will work and you will have what you expected."