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FIFA: Brazil still has 'plenty of work to do'

SAO PAULO (AP) -- FIFA acknowledges there is still a lot left to be done in Brazil to successfully stage next year's Confederations Cup and the 2014 World Cup.

"There is a lot of work in the stadiums and a lot of work in urban mobility and the different infrastructure work,'' FIFA Secretary General Jerome Valcke said Wednesday. "Yeah, we have plenty of work to do, but we will have what we need to organize the World Cup in the best environment.''

Valcke's comments came after a board meeting of the local World Cup organizing committee and following FIFA's final tour of the World Cup host cities this year. The draw of the Confederations Cup is Saturday in Sao Paulo.

Valcke said 2013 will be a crucial year with Brazil hosting the warm-up competition in June.

"We are confident and 2013 is definitely a key year with the lessons of the Confederations Cup. We will see what we have to adapt and what we need to do in the remaining six World Cup stadiums,'' he said. "We have a number of things to work on between now and April. We are now in the process of moving into the details, we are not talking about infrastructure in the highest level.''

Valcke praised the level of understanding reached between FIFA and the Brazilian government.

"We have reached this level of understanding that we need to succeed,'' he said.

FIFA and the Brazilian government have been trying to show nothing is affecting their partnership and everyone is on the same page as the deadlines become tighter and the events get closer.

"The Brazilian government has been working very hard,'' Brazil Sports Minister Aldo Rebelo said. "We know there are a lot of challenges, we know there is a lot of work ahead, but there is a lot of dedication.''

Ronaldo, a member of the local organizing committee, said Brazil will host "an excellent World Cup.''

"We don't have to talk about the stadiums any more, we know they will be ready,'' Ronaldo said. "It's time to start working about the details. We know the World Cup will happen and that the stadium will be wonderful.''

Valcke said FIFA has now authorized Brazil to use the Maracana and the Belo Horizonte stadiums in friendlies next June. The secretary general was upset earlier this week after the Rio de Janeiro government publicly announced the Maracana would host a match between Brazil and England even though the venue would be under FIFA's control at the time. Brazil is expected to play France on June 9 in Belo Horizonte.

The local organizing committee said more than 120,000 tickets have been sold for the Confederations Cup.

Valcke said FIFA was giving Brazil 50,000 free World Cup tickets to be distributed to Indigenous Brazilian and members of social programs aimed at the poorer population.

Earlier Wednesday, Valcke and Ronaldo took an urban train to Itaquera stadium, site of the opening match of the World Cup. Valcke said he liked the work being done at the venue, which is nearly 60 percent ready.

Valcke also praised the work in the southern city of Curitiba, which he visited on Tuesday, and at the Rio de Janeiro's Maracana, which will host the final of both the Confederations Cup and the World Cup.

FIFA is in Brazil at an agitated week in Brazilian football, which will culminate with the Confederations Cup draw on Saturday. As FIFA began its final inspection tour, a local member of FIFA's executive committee, Marco Polo del Nero, had his home raided in a police operation targeting financial crimes. On Thursday, the federation will announce the new Brazil coach, widely expected to be 2002 World Cup-winning coach Luiz Felipe Scolari.

The announcement of Scolari would keep Brazil from being without a representative in the Confederations Cup draw, when the team will find out who it will play in the tournament's opener.

Del Nero has not been charged and denied any wrongdoing, saying the raid was related to an investigation on a company he hired for a personal business transaction.

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