COSTA DO SAUIPE, Brazil (AP) — At least three World Cup stadiums in Brazil will not be finished by the end of December as FIFA requested.
Soccer's governing body said Tuesday the stadiums in Sao Paulo, Curitiba and Cuiaba are unable to meet the deadline because of construction delays.
The announcement came after the World Cup organizing committee received updates from the six host cities that still must turn over the venues for next year's tournament. The other six were ready for this year's Confederations Cup.
"Two stadiums will be delivered more in the region of February than in January or December," FIFA Secretary General Jerome Valcke said. "Curitiba is the one where we are facing the most problems. Clearly, Curitiba will not be delivered before the end of February 2014, so that's a fact."
The stadium in Cuiaba also is expected to be ready in February, four months before the World Cup opens on June 12. FIFA said it still doesn't know when it will have the venue in Sao Paulo, where a crane collapse last week killed two workers and damaged part of the stadium. A report on the scale of the damage is expected by the end of the week.
"We are in a period of time when the opening game of the World Cup will be played in Sao Paulo," Valcke said. "We are not in a crisis mood where we are looking for an alternative to Sao Paulo. We are confident they can deliver the stadium on time (for the opener.)"
The Sao Paulo venue, which will host the opening match, was almost ready when a giant crane buckled while hoisting a 500-ton metal structure that clipped part of the roof and cut through a huge lighting panel that runs across the venue's outer facade.
FIFA said it would not tolerate the same kinds of delays that plagued the Confederations Cup, when only two of the six venues were completed by the original deadline.
The Arena da Baixada in southern city of Curitiba was only 85 percent completed by October, according to the latest numbers released by local organizers. The Arena Pantanal in the wetlands city of Cuiaba was 90 percent completed in the end of November. There was also concern with the venue in the jungle city of Manaus, which was 91 percent ready in November.
The other cities that still need to deliver stadiums are Natal in northeastern Brazil and Porto Alegre in the southern region, though work is more advanced there. The stadiums in Salvador, Fortaleza, Belo Horizonte, Recife, Rio de Janeiro and Brasilia were ready for the Confederations Cup.
Valcke said FIFA is already rearranging plans for the installation of temporary facilities at the venues that also will not be delivered by the deadline. FIFA President Sepp Blatter downplayed the delays.
"There are some small delays in construction of stadia, but so small that, with one exception, we can just close (the) case and say everything will be ready," Blatter said.
FIFA wants the stadiums ready at least six months in advance mainly so there is time for at least two test events in each host city. It says there is no way of moving games because about 1 million tickets have already been sold for next year's tournament.
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