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World Cup: Last-minute touches at opening venue

A top FIFA official Wednesday said workers were still planting trees and flowers and attending to other "details" at Sao Paulo's Corinthians Arena, less than 24 hours before the World Cup kicks off.

SAO PAULO: A top FIFA official Wednesday said workers were still planting trees and flowers and attending to other "details" at Sao Paulo's Corinthians Arena, less than 24 hours before the World Cup kicks off.

Secretary general Jerome Valcke said staff had been working round the clock at venues including Corinthians Arena, which will host tournament opener Brazil v Croatia at 5:00 pm (2000 GMT) Thursday.

But he added that fears of a serious accident were misplaced. The concerns stem from the fact that the newly-built venue has not been tested at its full capacity.

"We have been working hard, I don't think our team has slept a lot over the last days or weeks," he told media at the FIFA congress in Sao Paulo.

"It's true that Itaquerao stadium (Corinthians Arena) we are still working on. But now you know we just need to put some flowers and nice trees around and it will look beautiful.

"So it's a question of details and I can tell you that the FIFA team and the local organising committee team are ready to make sure that nothing will happen.

"It's not time any more to say what's this and what's that. We are now in the delivery, 24 hours before the opening game, so we just have to make it. And we will make it."

The 12 World Cup stadiums were due to be ready by the end of December but six missed the initial deadline and eight workers died in the construction, including three in Sao Paulo.

Workers could still be seen wiping seats, checking beams and installing wiring in the Corinthians Arena days before the opening match, which will be attended by a dozen world leaders including UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon.

At the 46,000-capacity Amazonia Arena in Manaus, there were worries about the pitch, which appeared dry in several areas, while power cables dangled in the changing rooms.

Valcke said the media facilities and arrangements for spectators, including food and beverage outlets, would be ready at all 12 stadiums.

He added that any incomplete infrastructure projects were mainly intended for public use after the tournament, rather than being directly related to the World Cup.

FIFA president Sepp Blatter said while he hadn't made many visits to the host country, he had "followed all that was done, and not done, in Brazil.

"Now we're at the eve of the opening and I'm happy that tomorrow we'll have the kick-off and everybody will be in the game, and I'm sure the population of Brazil also will have the time to enjoy it," he said.

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