April 21, 2014, SAO PAULO (ISN) – FIFA’s top World Cup official is visiting Brazil this week to inspect the three stadiums yet to be completed for the World Cup, including the one hosting the tournament’s opening game in June.
Secretary General Jerome Valcke will inspect construction work at the Itaquerao in Sao Paulo on Tuesday to begin his latest tour of host cities. He will later visit the two other stadiums still under construction ahead of football’s showcase event — one in the southern city of Curitiba and another in the western city of Cuiaba.
Valcke’s agenda also includes a visit to the northeastern city of Fortaleza to check the site of its fan fest, the event which allows people without tickets to watch matches for free in public areas.
Valcke will also meet with representatives of the host cities to get updates on their preparations. His final stop will be in Rio de Janeiro on Thursday to participate in the board meeting of the local World Cup organizing committee.
The secretary general is expected to be back in Brazil in late May to visit at least some of the host cities. He will stay until the end of the tournament.
Brazil has been struggling to get the country ready for the World Cup. Infrastructure work is far from completed and local organizers were not able to finish the six stadiums that had to be ready by the end of last year as wanted by FIFA.
The Itaquerao in Sao Paulo is a main concern because it will host the high profile Brazil-Croatia opener on June 12. Work at the stadium was significantly delayed last November after a crane collapse killed two workers. Earlier this year, another accident killed one of the workers helping install the 20,000 temporary seats that will be needed for the inaugural match.
After the visit to the Itaquerao, Valcke will travel to Curitiba to inspect the Arena da Baixada, which also is expected to be ready only in mid-May. He will meet with the president of Brazilian club Atletico Paranaense, which is renovating the venue for the World Cup.
Valcke gets to Cuiaba on Wednesday to check on the work at the Arena Pantanal, which is expected to be inaugurated later this month.
The FIFA official will be accompanied by Brazil’s Sports Minister Aldo Rebelo and former Brazil players Ronaldo and Bebeto, members of the local World Cup organizing committee.