MOSCOW - Brazil has fallen behind with
its preparations for the 2014 World Cup and faces a battle to
build new stadiums, airports and transport links in time for the
event, FIFA Secretary General Jerome Valcke said on Friday.
"I won't say that Brazil started too late [but] we are not
advanced in Brazil," he told an audience in Russia, which will
host the subsequent tournament in 2018.
"We don't have stadiums, we don't have airports, we don't
have a national transportation system in place," he said during
a keynote address to a football forum in Moscow.
Brazil, the most successful World Cup nation with five
victories, has been much-criticised for its preparations since
winning the rights to host its first tournament since 1950.
A new stadium for largest city Sao Paulo has already been
ruled out as a venue for 2013 dress rehearsal the Confederations
Cup, while cost increases have hampered new building plans.
"To deliver stadiums is the most important part... it's a
lot of work. The Sao Paulo stadium is definitely not a World Cup
stadium and that is why it is closed," Valcke said.
Valcke, effectively FIFA's number two and widely credited
with the success of last year's tournament in South Africa, told
the Moscow audience that Russia should aim to be ready by 2016
- two years before the tournament starts.
He declined to comment directly on the cash-for-votes
scandal that surrounded FIFA's recent presidential election,
adding only that it was "nice to talk about football" for a
Alexei Sorokin, chief executive of Russia's World Cup
organising committee, told the forum the 2016 deadline was
"absolutely realistic," despite having to build or renovate
"We have to build a lot. We have never hid the fact that we
do not have a single stadium that is up to FIFA standards," he
Russia has nominated 13 host cities for the event, a figure
that will eventually be reduced, while estimating the total bill
for new infrastructure at $10 billion.
Sorokin said the $10 billion would come from private
investors as well as state funds, adding that a portion of the
total had already been budgeted under existing government plans
to improve Russian infrastructure.
"We are motivating stadium owners to attract as much private
investment as possible. It is meant to be profitable," he said.
He played down fears about racism in Russia as "not
representative of the general mood" but admitted it was
"difficult to control."
Brazilian former World Cup winner Roberto Carlos, who signed
for Russian club Anzhi Makhachkala in February, was the target
of banana-throwing at a league match earlier this week.
And Zenit St Petersburg, the Russian league champions, were
fined 300,000 roubles ($10,661.477) after a fan offered the same
player a banana at a pre-match ceremony in April.
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