World Cup opening stadium will be ready: FIFA

Sao Paulo, April 23 (IANS): FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke said the Sao Paulo Arena which will host the opening match of the World Cup will be ready in time despite construction delays.

Valcke checked on the stadium's progress Tuesday and affirmed the venue will be finished in time for the June 12 opener between Brazil and Croatia, reports Xinhua.

"Sao Paulo will be ready for the World Cup although not within the time frame initially planned," said Valcke after touring the Arena with representatives of football club Corinthians which owns the venue.

"There's no other choice. I am not a dreamer, I see the reality. The Sao Paulo Arena will be ready, though at the last minute."

The stadium is set to undergo a trial May 17 or 18 to evaluate its readiness.

"It will give us the opportunity to see what works and what doesn't and then we'll have a three-week period to correct any possible problems."

The test match between the Corinthians and Figueirense, part of the Brazilian Championship, will be attended by 50,000 spectators, 18,000 fewer than the number FIFA has set for the opening game but the firm in charge of installing the temporary bleachers has pledged to complete the work by May 10.

Valcke travelled to Curitiba later to inspect another stadium under construction -- Da Baixada Arena.

Valcke will visit the newly-inaugurated Pantanal Arena in Cuiaba Wednesday while Thursday he will travel to Fortaleza. On Friday, he will meet with the organising committee in Rio de Janeiro.

The World Cup stadia include Rio de Janeiro's Maracana, Sao Paulo's Arena, Curitiba's Da Baixada, Porto Alegre's Beira-Rio, Belo Horizonte's Mineirao, Brasilia's Nacional, Cuiaba's Pantanal, Salvador de Bahia's Fonte Nova, Recife's Pernambuco, Natal's Das Dunas, Fortaleza's Castelao and Manaos' Amazonia.



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