Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : January 18th 2014 Contents A56
Guardian www.guardian.co.tt Saturday, January 18, 2014
RIO DE JANEIRO---Jerome Valcke, Fifa s top offi-
cial in charge of the World Cup, is set to crisscross
Brazil again to view stadiums that are behind
schedule with the opening less than five months
He ll have company.
Thomas Bach, the president of the International
Olympic Committee, is also in the country next
week meeting with President Dilma Rousseff and
organizers of the sputtering Rio de Janeiro
Valcke and Bach have similar concerns: Both
mega-events face delays, there is increased public
scrutiny over the billions in public money being
spent and, in the case of the World Cup, time is
Valcke will be in Sao Paulo on Monday, and
visit Cuiaba, Manaus and Natal. The World Cup
opens on June 12 in Sao Paulo, but the stadium
there won t be ready until April. Others also face
The late finish means a rush to install television
equipment, few test games, and little time to phys-
ically count seats and make sure they match the
"The big difficulty is that we don t have a train-
ing period," Valcke explained in a recent interview
on France Bleu radio. "That s to say we can t train
ourselves. We find ourselves with stadiums---as
was the case at the Confederations Cup---that are
delivered too close to the kick-off of the first
match, and stadiums where we have encountered
a certain number of difficulties. We find ourselves
with infrastructure that isn t perfectly in place."
Valcke has pressed Brazilians for two years to
speed up. At one point he told Brazil organisers
bluntly: "You have to push yourself, kick your
Brazil is spending about $3.6 billion on 12 new
and renovated stadiums, and the cost is rising.
The original budget for stadiums was $1 billion.
Government officials at first promised stadiums
would be built with only private money. Instead,
80 percent has been public money.
In addition to stadiums, World Cup-related con-
struction will cost at least three times that much.
And four of the stadiums---in Brasilia, Natal, Cuiaba
and Manaus---are likely to become white elephants
with no top teams in those cities.
"This (Brazil) is the Mecca of football," Valcke
said. "Even though we ve been through, and are
Valcke coming to Brazil again
going through phases that are a bit complicated
and tense between Brazil and us --- because not
everything is ready---it s clearly the World Cup
that all football lovers dream of. ... There will
certainly be problems. There will be problems
because it s a country the size of a continent."
Trouble spots include: Soaring hotel prices,
questions about air travel through Brazil s out-
dated airports, and the promise of daily demon-
strations aimed at the billions being spent in a
country with severe social inequality.
As Valcke is traveling around Brazil, Rousseff
will be in Zurich Thursday meeting with Fifa
President Sepp Blatter. Fifa announced the visit
yesterday and said Sports Minister Aldo Rebelo
would accompany Rousseff.
Bach has said Rio s Olympics don t have "a
single moment to lose."
Major General Fernando Azevedo e Silva,
appointed three months ago to coordinate gov-
ernment spending for the Olympics, underlined
its urgency. In a recent interview he compared
stepping into his new job to "changing tires on
a car that s moving." (AP)
FRANKFURT---Germany coach Joachim Loew has
offered an early glimpse into his expected World
Cup squad by picking 26 players for publicity events.
The players will assemble in Munich on Monday
for two "marketing" days that will include shoots
for sponsors and similar activities.
But Loew also wants to use the time to get his
players into a World Cup mood.
Loew said it was "extremely important" to be able
to speak personally to players.
"For us all, there is nothing greater than a World
Cup in Brazil and we just can t wait for it to start,"
Arsenal players Mesut Ozil, Per Mertesacker and
Lukas Podolski will be missing due to club commit-
ments. But the injured Sami Khedira and Mario
Gomez have been invited.
Loew did not include any newcomers and there
were no surprise omissions. Striker Stefan Kiessling,
one of the top Bundesliga scorers in the past three
seasons, was left out, although Loew has said that
he might be part of the World Cup squad if one, or
both, of his preferred strikers, Gomez and Miroslav
Klose, may not be able to make the trip to Brazil.
Loew picks 26 players
for publicity events
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