FIFA to step up oversight of World Cup stadiums progress
SAO PAULO (AP) -- FIFA will intensify its monitoring of the stadiums being prepared for the upcoming Confederations Cup after local organizers delayed the finish date of the venue hosting the opening match in Brasilia.
Football's governing body also reiterated Tuesday that such delays "will not be tolerated'' ahead of the 2014 World Cup.
A day after the delay announced in Brasilia and less than two months before the Confederations Cup, FIFA met with local officials and the local 2014 World Cup organizing committee in the nation's capital and announced it will make a new inspection visit at the Estadio Nacional in two weeks.
The stadium was expected to be opened on Sunday, but problems with the pitch forced organizers to change the date to May 18, just three days before FIFA takes over all six Confederations Cup venues.
"FIFA and the LOC demonstrated concern with the tight deadlines and the short period available for the test events that guarantee the operational success of events with the size of the FIFA Confederations Cup,'' FIFA and the local organizing committee said in a joint statement.
"The daily and on-site monitoring of the stadium construction works and the hiring and assembling of the temporary structures by the LOC operational teams already working in the six FCC host cities will be also intensified,'' they said.
Officials in Brasilia blamed excessive rain in the region for the disruption of the installation schedule of the pitch. FIFA made it clear that it won't accept these types of excuses ahead of the World Cup.
"FIFA and the LOC highlight one more time that it is exactly because of natural challenges faced in big construction works - like the heavy rains observed in Brasilia - that the stadiums must be ready enough time before and stress again that delays like the ones observed will not be tolerated for the (World Cup) stadiums,'' the statement said.
FIFA and the local organizing committee noted that the World Cup involves a "significantly higher number of host cities, teams, fans, matches, journalists and TV audience.''
"This means that the flexibility observed in the deadlines for the FIFA Confederations Cup will not be the same for the FIFA World Cup, when no exception will be made and all FIFA World Cup stadiums must be delivered by end of December 2013 with no compromises to be made by FIFA,'' the statement said.
FIFA originally wanted all Confederations Cup stadiums ready by last December but made an exception in Brazil because of delays with several venues, including at the Maracana Stadium, which will host the tournament's final in Rio de Janeiro on June 30. Local organizers then set April 15 as the deadline for the stadiums, but only three made it.
FIFA said it would be ideal to have three test events in each of the six venues, but Secretary General Jerome Valcke recently admitted that at this stage two would be fine.
Brasilia Gov. Agnelo Queiroz, who participated in Tuesday's meeting, guaranteed that the Estadio Nacional will be ready for the test events scheduled for May 18 and May 26.
"We are not going to risk the stadium delivery because of the problem with the pitch,'' he said.
The stadium is set to open the Confederations Cup with a match between Brazil and Japan.