FIFA upbeat about Sao Paulo World Cup stadium

Sao Paulo, Jan 21 (IANS): World football's governing body FIFA is confident that Sao Paulo's Itaquerao Stadium can overcome construction delays to host the opening match of the World Cup slated for June 12.

FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke visited the stadium Monday, almost two months after two workers died when a crane collapsed on part of the venue's facade.

The accident prompted FIFA to extend the stadium's Dec 31 deadline to mid-April.

"We will do all that we can to make sure this opening game is a success," Valcke told a press conference here Monday.

"In a way, I would say the pressure is a little bit bigger here. It's the first game. It has to be a success. The world will be watching."

The Itaquerao Stadium is one of six World Cup stadiums yet to be delivered.

Local officials say the venue is 97 percent completed with almost 30,000 seats already installed.

It will host six World Cup matches, including the tournament opener between Brazil and Croatia.

Valcke was also due to inspect Cuiaba's Arena Pantanal and Curitiba's Arena da Baixada during his latest Brazil visit.

Meanwhile, FIFA says it has already received about 10 million World Cup ticket requests, the most ever for football's signature tournament.



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