Updated 07:06 AM EDT, Sat, Apr 10, 2021

FIFA Reiterates "There is no Plan B", Extension Granted for Brazil to Finish Building Stadiums

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FIFA, the world soccer ruling body, has agreed this week to extend its deadline for construction to be completed for the Brazilian venues that will host games for the 2014 World Cup.

"Three stadiums will not be ready by the end of the year," said FIFA General Secretary Jerome Valcke to BBC.com. "One [will be ready] by the end of January 2014, and the two - between end of February and early March."

Concerns over completion of the facilities have been raised in the wake of the death of two construction workers killed in an accident last Wednesday at Sao Paulo's Itaquerao Stadium, the venue scheduled to host the opening match of the global soccer tournament, after a construction crane fell through a 500-ton metal structure that cut through the outer walls of the stadium, destroying rows of seats, and slamming into a massive LED panel that runs across the stadium's facade.

One employee, 44-year-old Ronaldo Oliveira dos Santos, was sleeping in a restricted area while 42-year-old Fabio Luis Pereira was inside a truck that was hit by the metal structure, according to the Associated Press.

Brazilian World Cup organizers remain confident that despite the delays, they will make the new deadlines, which according to FIFA President Sepp Blatter may be April 14 or April 15.

''We are in a much more advanced stage at this point in time than we were before the Confederations Cup,'' said Brazil's deputy sports minister Luis Fernandes. ''In March, there were still doubts whether the Maracana would be ready for the final. We are in a much better position now. The only doubt we have is related to the Sao Paulo stadium.''

Delays in constructions will also cause ticketing issues for the venues, with FIFA Marketing Director Thierry Weil saying that the schedule for the release of tickets has been slightly altered because seating plans in some of the facilities have not been finalized. The stadium in Cuiaba is one such facility, with no pitch, no seats and no roof constructed currently built in the facility, according to BBC.com.

Protests over the cost of the event has also caused headaches for World Cup organizers, with the public sector putting up over $13 billion of the total cost, including stadium construction costs for the World Cup having gone three times over-budget, despite promises the private sector would pay for any extra costs.

Activists seem prepared to take to the streets again, much like they did during June's Confederation Cup, with crowds swelling up to as many as 200,000 people, insistent that the public money being spent on the World Cup would have been better spent on schools, hospitals and infrastructure.

"We're not against the World Cup itself, but how the process of the World Cup has been made here," said Bruno Boaventura, a lawyer in Cuiaba who is a part of the protest movement. "The public haven't been involved in any of the decisions."

Valcke is asking for Brazilians to tap into their love of the sport and support the World Cup rather than continue delaying World Cup preparations. Valcke has even recruited Brazilian soccer icon Pelé, to plead FIFA's case to the people.

"I think the people should be very quiet and pay attention because this is a great moment for the country," said the three-time World Cup winner. "It makes good publicity, investment, tourism. I think we have to be careful because it's a big opportunity."

Blatter also reiterated to reporters this week that Brazil will not lose the hosting rights to 2014 World Cup nor will FIFA seek for alternative venues within the country despite the construction delays and the protests. Tickets for the event at the proposed venues have already been sold and Friday's World Cup draw will be held under the assumption all 12 venues will be ready to go in time for the June 12 opening match, despite delays lingering at the venues in Cuiaba, Curitaba, Manaus and Natal.

"We have received information it should be that the stadium will be ready in mid-April. We believe it is a question of trust that it will be done," said Blatter. "For the time being there is no Plan B. What FIFA can do is ask God or Allah that there will be no more accidents in connection with the World Cup.We hope the construction can start as soon as possible."

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