- POSTED: 21 Jan 2014 01:01
FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke said he was confident World Cup hosts Brazil would deliver despite lingering concerns over late stadium completions
SAO PAOLO: FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke on Monday said he was confident World Cup hosts Brazil would deliver despite lingering concerns over late stadium completions.
"We are very confident that things are on track," said Valcke as he embarked upon his latest visit to the country by visiting the Arena Corinthians stadium in Sao Paulo, which is due to host the June 12 opening match.
Work at the stadium has been running behind schedule following a fatal accident in late November which saw a crane fall onto part of the stand and crush two construction workers.
The accident forced FIFA to scrap an initial December 31 deadline for all 12 venues to be ready and Sao Paulo is only set to hold pre-event tests from mid-April.
"A lot of work still has to be done where the accident took place," Valcke noted.
But he added that he believed Brazil will rise to the challenge of hosting its first World Cup since 1950.
As well as fatal accidents at three stadiums -- Brasilia and Manaus being the others -- there has been widespread concern at Brazil's ability to overcome logistical issues, including a poor transport network and sky-high hotel prices.
FIFA's president, Sepp Blatter, earlier this month criticised the Brazilians for starting preparations too late after being selected as hosts back in 2007.
That criticism from the head of world football's governing body stung Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff into a spirited riposte.
Valcke himself noted Rousseff's point that fan enthusiasm for the event knows no bounds.
"We never received so many requests" for World Cup tickets.
"I think we have some 10 million requests for tickets," said Valcke, who was later to go on to Cuiaba, Curitiba and Natal to monitor progress there.