Sports Illustrated – 11/07/2012
Doubts about whether Brazil would be able to get the venues for the Confederations Cup ready for next year will end on Thursday when FIFA announces the host cities.
It is the first big test of Brazil’s capacity to prepare for the 2014 World Cup, and the decision will show if the country has met or fallen short of expectations.
FIFA initially announced six venues, but slow preparations in the northeastern cities of Salvador and Recife prompted football’s governing body to create backup match schedules with four and five venues in case the original plan fell through.
The cities had until this month to show improvement and convince FIFA ahead of its announcement of the final match schedule.
Rio de Janeiro, Belo Horizonte, Fortaleza and Brasilia have been secured as hosts. The opener will be in Brasilia and the final will be played at Maracana Stadium in Rio.
The biggest question mark has been about Recife, which was forced to advance its final construction deadline by 10 months after FIFA said it wanted the city in the Confederations Cup. The 46,000-seat Arena Pernambuco, which will host five World Cup matches, was more than 70 percent completed by the end of October, according to constructors. It was only 52 percent built in July.
“We are confident,” said Ricardo Leitao, the government official in charge of preparations in Recife. “Everything that the state of Pernambuco promised to FIFA is being done. We are sticking to the schedule and we are on track to deliver the Arena Pernambuco in February 2013.”
FIFA usually wants new venues ready six months before competitions so at least two test events can be completed, but in this case it would accept taking over the Arena Pernambuco just four months ahead of the tournament’s first match on June 15.