World CupSunday, March 2, 2014
FIFA: Sao Paulo stadium not ready until May
ZURICH — The Sao Paulo stadium which hosts the opening match of the World Cup will not be finished until less than four weeks before Brazil plays Croatia on June 12.
Confirming further delays yesterday, FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke said the venue would not be ready “before the 15th of May.”
“We are 104 days before the first game in Brazil, in Sao Paulo, in a stadium which is not ready,” Valcke told reporters.
FIFA had hoped to get the Itaquerão stadium in mid-April, following delays when a crane collapsed in November killing two workers. Referring to host cities Sao Paulo and Curitiba, Valcke said two of the 12 World Cup stadiums were “quite late.”
Arena da Baixada in the southern city of Curitiba was reprieved two weeks ago after threats it could be cut from the tournament. It is also scheduled to be handed over to FIFA in mid-May.
“It’s true that whenever you receive something late then it’s a challenge to make this thing ready on time,” Valcke acknowledged, though adding “it will work eventually.”
“The goal is that on the 12th of June until the 13th of July everything will be working well,” he said.
Valcke said the expected stadium delivery dates were not deadlines, but instead a matter of completing outstanding work to prepare the venues to host matches, media and sponsors. Equipping a stadium to World Cup working standards requires 90 days.
“We have to work in conditions where the cement is not even dry (and) we already put things in place,” the FIFA official said.
The World Cup had “full support” from Brazil President Dilma Rousseff and different levels of city, state and federal government bodies, Valcke said.
Despite often strained relations with Brazilian soccer and political authorities over World Cup preparations, Valcke said his latest observations were not negative.
Also, players at the World Cup face FIFA disciplinary action for revealing any slogan or image on their undershirts.
Soccer’s rules-making panel modified the law, which previously related only to political and religious statements and advertising, and agreed yesterday it will take effect on June 1.
The panel, known as the International Football Association Board (IFAB), said breaking the rule was not a yellow-card offence, though players can be disciplined by competition organizers.
“We think it’s the simplest rule for the image of the game to start from the basis that there is no room for slogans, images or alternative sponsor logos on the undershirt,” said IFAB member Alex Horne, general secretary of England’s Football Association.
Also, the panel rejected UEFA’s proposal to remove red cards from the so-called “triple punishment” — penalty, sending off and suspension — for penalty-area fouls which deny a goal-scoring opportunity.