Construction continues near the Itaquerao Stadium in Sao Paulo. (Getty Images)

FIFA executives expressed confidence in Brazil’s preparations for the upcoming FIFA World Cup during a Thursday press conference.

President Sepp Blatter and secretary Jerome Valcke were in attendance from the world governing body, as was Brazil minister of sport Aldo Rebelo.

After months of criticizing Brazil’s slow progress on venue construction and missed deadlines, Valcke seems content with where things stand heading into next Thursday’s opener between Brazil and Croatia.

“We are in control,” said the secretary general.

“It’s true that if you go to Itaquerao Stadium, it looks like there’s…quite a lot of work still going on,” said Valcke. “I would say that it’s quite normal, and it’s even more normal when some of the stadiums were delivered late.”

He added that “four or five teams” are already in the country, practicing at world-class training facilities, and that no matches are at risk of being canceled or moved.

The main challenge now, according to Valcke, is making sure facilities for the media are up to par.

Rebelo stressed the many facets in which a country must prepare for an event like this.

“When we’re talking about an event of the magnitude so large as a World Cup, there is no way you can award a diploma of preparedness, put it on the wall, and say, ‘I’m prepared.’

“Preparation has to be proven day by day. That is, you have to submit all of the different areas required for the operation of the country, of the city, of public services for such an event.”

Valcke downplayed the hurdles faced to this point by saying Brazil is not the first World Cup host to face difficulties.

“Each country is different,” said Valcke. “You can’t compare. Our friends from Russia … are listening to all what’s happening in Brazil, and I’m sure that we’ll also face some problems in Russia that will be different problems.

“The World Cup is a difficult event to organize, and it’s always a challenge, no matter who’s organizing it.”


Qatar Issues on ExCo Docket

When asked about the possibility of corruption in the process of awarding the 2022 World Cup to Qatar, FIFA president Sepp Blatter deferred to an upcoming meeting of FIFA luminaries.

“This is a matter we have on the agenda of the executive committee in two days.”

Even then, definitive action may not be taken until the results of an ongoing independent investigation become known.

On whether evidence of corruption would be immediate grounds for a revote, Blatter was noncommittal.

“I am not a prophet. We await the results and see what will happen.”

By INSIDER’s Nick Devlin


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