With Confed Cup cities set, Brazil gets to work


SAO PAULO (AP) -Brazilian World Cup organizers couldn't spend much time celebrating FIFA's decision to approve six venues for next year's Confederations Cup. With a tight deadline and stadiums facing delays, there was no time to waste.

FIFA clearly said it remains concerned with stadium construction, and local organizers said they know they have to keep up a fast pace to guarantee the venues are delivered in time for test events before the tournament opens on June 15.

"We celebrated, but didn't stop working," said Ney Campello, the official in charge of the preparations in the northeast city of Salvador. "We need to make sure everything is ready within the timeframes we have."

Salvador and Recife were ratified as host cities on Thursday along with Rio de Janeiro, Belo Horizonte, Brasilia and Fortaleza. But only the stadiums in Belo Horizonte and Fortaleza will be ready by the end of this year, which was the initial plan for all venues.

FIFA moved back the delivery deadline for the venues to April, and for the first time it will accept taking over the stadiums less than six months before a major competition. Football's governing body usually wants the new venues six months in advance.

With tickets sales beginning later this month, FIFA said any setback from now on will pose a significant challenge because there is no plan B in place.

Local organizers said they know FIFA is serious when it says the country is reaching a "point of no return" on its preparations.

"The stadium which isn't ready on April 15 will be excluded," said Jose Maria Marin, the president of the local organizing committee. "I'm not the one saying this, that's our commitment to FIFA."

Local authorities said their responsibility increased after FIFA accepted keeping all six cities in the Confederations Cup despite concerns with some of the venues.

"We have to do the best we can to get the city ready in 2013," Campello said. "It's not only about the stadium, we also have to prepare the hotels, the airport, and infrastructure and everything else."

The Arena Fonte Nova in Salvador was 80 percent completed by the end of October and is expected to open with a test event on March 29, according to local organizers.

Recife was the main city in danger of being left out of the Confederations Cup, but local organizers significantly expedited the pace of construction and the Arena Pernambuco is more than 70 percent finished. It was originally expected to be finalized by the end of 2013, but the deadline had to change after FIFA decided to include the city in next year's tournament.

Maracana, which will host the tournament's final, is expected to be 85 percent completed next month, and Brasilia's Estadio Nacional had more than 80 percent of the work done by the end of October. Brasilia will host the opener of the warm-up competition for the World Cup.

The Arena Castelao in Fortaleza and the Mineirao Stadium in Belo Horizonte were 93 percent ready and on scheduled to be delivered in December this year.

The Confederations Cup will be played June 15-30 among the six continental champions, the World Cup winner and the host nation.


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Copyright 2016 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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