SAO PAULO - Pele says Brazil risks
embarrassment if preparations to host the 2014 World Cup do not
get up to speed soon.
Brazil's greatest footballer said he was most concerned
about delays in building or improving stadiums and modernising
the country's "frightening" airport system.
"You know of the fight we had to get the (2016) Olympics and
the World Cup, travelling around the world seeking votes and now
a moment has come that is worrying everyone," Pele told a news
conference on Friday.
"Brazil is running a great risk of embarrassing us in how it
runs the World Cup, principally in communications. The airports
are frightening and not just for Brazilians."
Pele said he spoke with directors of world soccer's
governing body FIFA and also a group linked to European body
UEFA's president Michel Platini, who also expressed concern over
the pace of preparations in Brazil.
Most of the works for the World Cup are behind schedule and
some of the stadiums have not even begun to be built as in the
case of first division club Corinthians, chosen by Sao Paulo
city as its match venue.
"Brazil has the obligation to stage a good World Cup, a good
administration, and sadly it's already behind and has this
controversy of Sao Paulo," the 70-year-old Pele said.
"The Paulista championship is the core of Brazilian
football, it's what should already be settled and it still isn't
Sao Paulo will stage the tournament's opening match,
according to the organising committee, but it is unclear how
Corinthians will enlarge their stadium to the 60,000-capacity
required by FIFA. Work is supposed to start next month.
Apart from the stadiums, infrastructure improvements are
also required, especially to the inadequate airports.
In Brazil, air terminals are close to saturation point and
Sports Minister Orlando Silva has said that is a major obstacle
ahead of the World Cup.
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