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FIFA to make visit to Recife ahead of venue choice

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SAO PAULO (AP) -FIFA's inspection team will visit Recife on Tuesday before deciding whether the northeastern Brazilian city will be included in next year's Confederations Cup.

The move comes less than a month before FIFA announces the final match schedule for the warm-up tournament next June.

Recife is among the six venues initially selected to host matches, but its participation will only be ratified by showing significant improvement in its preparations.

Also Tuesday, FIFA Secretary General Jerome Valcke will begin a tour of World Cup host cities Belo Horizonte and Porto Alegre. He will attend a board meeting of the local organizing committee in Rio de Janeiro on Thursday.

Local organizers in Recife said Monday that they are convinced FIFA's team of technical inspectors will like what they see during the inspection.

"We remain confident that we will be part of the tournament," said Ricardo Leitao, the government official in charge of the World Cup organization in Recife. "(We) are prepared for FIFA's inspection visit. All the updated numbers on the progress of work for the Confederations Cup will be presented."

Five inspectors will spend the day in Recife monitoring the progress of construction at the Arena Pernambuco and checking the infrastructure work across the city.

The biggest concern has been with the pace of construction at the Arena Pernambuco, which was 64 percent complete in September. The construction company said Monday that construction is progressing by six percent each month since July, but local organizers want the work to be at about 80 percent finalized by the end of this month.

About 4,000 workers are involved in the arena's construction at the moment.

The 46,000-seat stadium was originally scheduled to be completed at the end of 2013. But when the city was selected as a Confederations Cup host, FIFA changed the deadline to February. It will host five World Cup matches, including one in the second round.

Arena Pernambuco will host three matches if it's included in the warm-up tournament, which will be played June 15-30 among the six continental champions, the World Cup winner and the host team.

Salvador is the other city which also has the November deadline to guarantee its participation in the competition. The match schedule needs to be finalized then because that's when FIFA will start preparing the tournament's ticket sales. FIFA has prepared schedules with four and five cities as a precaution.

The host cities already set for the Confederations Cup are Rio de Janeiro, Fortaleza, Belo Horizonte and the capital of Brasilia.

Other cities that didn't get to participate in previous Confederations Cups include Kaiserslautern in Germany in 2005 and Port Elizabeth in South Africa in 2009.

Seven teams have secured spots for next year's Confederations Cup: Asian champion Japan, CONCACAF Gold Cup winner Mexico, South American champion Uruguay, World Cup holder Spain, European runner-up Italy, Oceania champion Tahiti and host Brazil. The Africa Cup of Nations winner will be known in February.

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Copyright 2014 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
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