Valcke makes key Brazil visit as Confed Cup nears

TALES AZZONI AP Sports Writer Published:

SAO PAULO (AP) -- Amid concerns about stadium construction delays, FIFA Secretary General Jerome Valcke began a tour Tuesday to check on Brazil's preparations with about three months to go before the Confederations Cup starts.

Valcke will visit three host cities and will participate in a board meeting of the local World Cup organizing committee at the end of his three-day trip.

He began his visit in the northeastern city of Recife, which has yet to deliver its stadium for the warm-up tournament. He will then head to Belo Horizonte, which faced problems at the inauguration of the Mineirao Stadium earlier this year. His last stop is in Rio de Janeiro, which will host the final at Maracana on June 30.

The board meeting will be on Thursday, marking 100 days before the Confederations Cup begins. The opener will be in Brasilia on June 15. The tournament among continental champions will also be played in Salvador and Fortaleza.

FIFA initially wanted all six venues to be ready by December but was forced to extend the deadline until April 15 because of delays.

Valcke admitted last week there is "a very tight schedule with a few of the stadia," but said FIFA had "trust in the commitment made by the federal government and the governors and mayors responsible that they will fulfill the guarantees they provided."

Only the Mineirao and the Arena Castelao in Fortaleza have been delivered so far, with the other four venues racing to have the work done by the mid-April deadline.

The Arena Fonte Nova in Salvador was expected to be completed last week, but local authorities were forced to delay its delivery date because constructors were unable to finish the venue on time. Its opening had to be moved back from March 29 to April 7, just a week before FIFA's deadline.

Brazil's Sports Ministry says all stadiums will be ready for the Confederations Cup.

There were glitches in the inauguration of the Castelao and the Mineirao, including a faulty field, but organizers said the problems have already been solved and the venues are ready.

Valcke's trip began amid a report by Brazil's largest newspaper saying that the government watchdog group is warning that delays on the bidding processes for the purchase of telecommunications equipment may cause problems for the television broadcast of matches during the 2014 World Cup.

Local organizing committee members Ronaldo and Bebeto, as well as Sports Minister Aldo Rebelo and other local government officials, are accompanying Valcke on his tour.

Valcke is expected to handover symbolic tickets to representatives of the construction workers who have been renovating the venues.

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