Jerome Valcke, the secretary general of FIFA, has recently questioned the readiness of three of the stadiums slated to be used in the upcoming FIFA World Cup. These three stadiums make up a quarter of the total venues for this year’s tournament, and questions about their readiness to accommodate spectators are expected to impact available seating arrangements. Particularly significant is the Itaquerao Stadium in Sao Paolo, which is expected to be the venue for the match between Brazil and Croatia on June 12. The stadium, which has a capacity of 68 000, recently had temporary seating added, and local authorities are not expected to allow tickets to be sold for said temporary seats until more work has been done. This is an example of how certain stadiums are having a negative impact on the viewing experience of fans, but it is by no means the only one.
Valcke also questioned the readiness of the facilities situated in Natal and Porto Alegre, saying that the stadium in Porto Alegre required a significant amount more work before it was fit to host a match. Valcke’s tour of the Brazilian stadiums has taken place over the course of approximately two weeks, and has brought to light a number of cases in which stadiums still require work. For example, although Valcke only expressed concern of three of the twelve stadiums, he noted that organizers in Salvador has no time to waste if they wanted to be prepared in time for the upcoming tournament. This is especially significant because the Arena Fonte Nova, located in Salvador, is to be the site of the highly anticipated clash between Spain and the Netherlands, a rematch of the 2010 final.
Questions regarding the stadiums to be used in the upcoming FIFA World Cup are by no means a new occurrence, and have in fact been going on for months. Curitiba, which was actually praised by Jerome Valcke in his latest statement, was so far behind schedule earlier this year that it was almost excluded from the FIFA World Cup altogether. Six of the twelve stadiums were completed for last year’s Confederations Cup, a kind of warm up for the FIFA World Cup, and the rest were scheduled to be completed by the end of 2013, something which has evidently failed to happen.
The delays have been attributed to a number of effects, such as the sub-standard safety conditions, which have claimed three lives in Sao Paolo over the past year, but no major cause has yet been decisively pinpointed. However, regardless of the seemingly never-ending delays, FIFA vice-president Jim Boyce has firmly maintained that the FIFA World Cup will start on time. Boyce has also been optimistic regarding the long-term ramifications that the tournament will have on Brazil, saying that the investments will positively impact many aspects of everyday life. Brazilian superstar Ronaldo has not been as optimistic, saying that the Brazilian public has been cheated of the general infrastructure investments that were promised, although he did still seem to think that there would be some positive aspects of the upcoming World Cup. In any case, the readiness of the stadiums slated to be the site of the FIFA World Cup has been called into question, and these questions will need to be resolved before the tournament can begin.
By Nicholas Grabe