SAO PAULO (AP) — With the World Cup less than a year away, FIFA is pledging to increase its monitoring of stadium construction in Brazil.
Secretary General Jerome Valcke said Friday that with preparations entering the final stages, the focus will be on making sure Brazil can have all 12 stadiums ready for football's showcase event which will kick off in June 2014.
There were several delays in stadium delivery for the Confederations Cup earlier this year and FIFA has made it clear that it will not tolerate the same problems again. Brazil has to deliver the final six World Cup venues by the end of the year.
Valcke said the Confederations Cup was a success but admitted that there were "a few challenges and deficiencies" that need to be addressed for next year.
"For us organizers a key focus is now on the 12 stadia, with a tighter monitoring naturally on the six arenas still under construction," Valcke said in his monthly column released by FIFA. "The essential key to success of next year's flagship event is that we can start setting up the complementary infrastructure ... as of early 2014 across all stadia — earlier than we managed for the Confederations Cup in order to allow time for proper testing and adjustments."
Only two of the six Confederations Cup venues were completed by the original December deadline set up by FIFA for the warm-up tournament, and some were only delivered just before the competition began. There was a lot of unfinished infrastructure work around nearly all of the venues, and local organizers were not able to host the ideal number of test events at the stadiums.
"You cannot expect everything to run perfectly in brand new stadia," Valcke said. "That is where we will concentrate our efforts, as we seek to ensure the FIFA World Cup will be a roaring success for the teams, the fans and, most importantly, for the host nation Brazil."
The secretary general said that immediately after the Confederations Cup everyone involved started to sit down and assess what "we have learned, and we are set to strengthen any weak links" over the next few months.
"The preparations for football's flagship event have now really grown into a huge collective undertaking between sports and host country stakeholders, as the works continue apace," Valcke said. "There is 'only' 11 months to go before the whistle is blown in Sao Paulo for the opening match and the tournament can start for real."
Valcke will be in Brazil from Aug. 19-22 to inspect work in Sao Paulo, Curitiba and Manaus.
Tickets for the World Cup will go on sale on Aug. 20, and the tournament's draw is set for Dec. 6, when the 32 nation will know their opponents during the group stage.
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