Brazil in a sweat as 100-day World Cup countdown begins

Mon Mar 3, 2014 7:51am EST
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By Andrew Downie

SAO PAULO (Reuters) - With 100 days to go before the World Cup starts, Brazil is in the home straight of the countdown and huffing and puffing to complete stadiums, airports, IT networks and public transportation systems.

Four of the 12 venues are still not ready and at least two will not be completed until at least April, two months before Brazil meet Croatia in the opening match on June 12.

Authorities are also racing against the clock to finish airport terminals and transport systems and to clean up areas around the grounds.

Officials at soccer's ruling body FIFA have expressed concern but can do little more than cross their fingers and hope everything is alright on the night.

"I am not a World Cup specialist but I will say this has not been easy for sure," FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke told reporters in Zurich at the weekend.

"I think things will work well but it is also true that whenever you receive something late it becomes a challenge to make it ready in time."

Valcke, the man charged with organizing the tournament, prompted a diplomatic uproar in 2012 when he said Brazil needed "a kick up the backside".

President Dilma Rousseff replied by vowing this would be "the World Cup to end all World Cups", a slogan repeated by FIFA boss Sepp Blatter, but others say there are reasons for skepticism.   Continued...

FIFA Secretary General Jerome Valcke gestures as he addresses a news conference after a meeting of the International Football Association Board (IFAB) at the the FIFA headquarters in Zurich March 1, 2014. Reuters/Arnd Wiegmann