Brazil faces a race against time to be ready for the Confederations Cup and World Cup (Getty)

(WFI) FIFA secretary general Jerome Valke today began his latest inspection of Brazil 2014 World Cup preparations amid ongoing concerns over delays in stadia and infrastructure projects.

“Just landed in Brazil, and now with Ronaldo on our way to Manaus. Cannot wait to discover the heart of the Amazon,” he tweeted on Tuesday morning.

Manaus is the capital of the state of Amazonas. Valcke is accompanied by Ronaldo, a member of the Brazil 2014 organising committee board, and Luis Fernandes, executive secretary of the ministry of sport.

Valcke was scheduled to meet with the governor of the state, Omar Aziz, and the Manaus mayor, Amazonino Mendes before a joint visit to the stadium. The FIFA delegation heads to Cuiaba this evening.

The FIFA no. 2 said the Amazon and the gateway to the Pantanal were “perfect examples of the beautiful diversity of the country”.

He added: “The visits are very important not only to see the stadiums and the general infrastructure progress but also to be able to discuss with the host cities and states representatives our joint mission, as they are providing the essential playing field for the teams and their fans.”

On Wednesday in Cuiaba, located in the center of the South American continent, Valcke and Brazil 2014 officials will visit the World Cup stadium and discuss other areas of the city’s preparations for tournament.

Both Manaus and Cuiaba are scheduled to stage four group-stage matches at the 2014 World Cup.

Valcke’s visit to Brazil wraps up with a board meeting of the 2014 organising committee in Rio de Janeiro on Thursday.

Despite repeated assurances from World Cup organisers and the Brazilian government, FIFA remains concerned that elements of stadia construction and transport infrastructure works will not be finished on time for the Confederations Cup next year and the World Cup to follow.

The clock is ticking down to the staging of the Confederations Cup in six Brazilian cities next June.

But a number of new stadia are far from finished and the $500m-plus revamp of Rio’s Maracana is slowgoing.

But Brazil’s deputy sports minister Fernandes is not worried.

“These are complex operations, but we’re more than confident — absolutely sure — they’ll be built in time,” Fernandes was quoted by the Miami Herald on Tuesday.

The Frenchman has promised to visit all 12 host cities for Brazil 2014 by the end of this year. After tours of Brasilia, Fortaleza, Natal, Recife and Salvador in the first six months of 2012, he still has Porto Alegre, Sao Paulo, Belo Horizonte and Curitiba to inspect.

Sao Paulo will host the opening match of Brazil 2014, with Rio de Janeiro’s Maracana, venue for the 2016 Olympic opening and closing ceremonies, staging the World Cup final.

Hooliganism Crackdown

Meanwhile, Brazil has issued a warning to football hooligans intent on causing trouble at the upcoming FIFA tournaments that fan violence will not be tolerated.

Jose Mariano Beltrame, security affairs secretary for Rio state, said that a police investigation centre would be established to handle incidents of hooliganism, according to an AFP report.

News of the crackdown came after an outbreak of fan violence between Fluminense and Vasco da Gama fans at the weekend.

One Vasco da Gama fan was killed by Flamengo hooligans last week; in April a Flamengo supporter was reportedly beaten to death by a Vasco fan.

By INSIDER editor Mark Bisson

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