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Stadiums behind schedule but will be ready: FIFA

A general view shows a collapsed crane at the Arena Sao Paulo stadium, known as "Itaquerao", in Sao Paulo December 2, 2013. REUTERS/Paulo Wh
A general view shows a collapsed crane at the Arena Sao Paulo stadium, known as "Itaquerao", in Sao Paulo December 2, 2013. REUTERS/Paulo Wh

By Mike Collett

COSTA DO SAUIPE, Brazil (Reuters) - Three stadiums hosting matches at next year's World Cup finals will not be ready by FIFA's end-of-year deadline, the general secretary of world soccer's governing body said on Tuesday.

They are the Arena Pantanal in Cuiaba, the Arena da Baixada in Curitiba, and the Itaquera stadium in Sao Paulo, where two workers were killed last week when a crane collapsed on the roof of one of the stands.

FIFA president Sepp Blatter told reporters that the Itaquera would not be completed by its planned deadline of December 31 but would be ready in time for the finals, when it is due to host the opening match on June 12, 2014.

Blatter, speaking after a meeting of the World Cup organising committee, said a report into the stadiums alerted them to some problems but added, "they are now so small we can close our eyes".

He added: "But there is one sad fact, and we deplore the loss of the two people who lost their lives last week, and we are feeling sad with the families, but the Sao Paulo stadium will be ready for the opening match."

Brazil are due to kick off the World Cup in Sao Paulo against opponents who will be known after Friday's draw.

General secretary Jerome Valcke confirmed there were problems at both the 43,000-seater Arena Pantanal in Cuiaba, which is due to host four group matches, and the 41,000 Arena da Baixada in Curitiba, which is also staging four group matches. The plan for a retractable roof at Curitiba has been abanoned.

There are also doubts that the stadiums in Manaus and Natal will be ready on time, but they are not as far behind schedule as the other two.

Valcke also said the stadiums would be late in terms of the planned deadline but ready in time for the finals.

Regarding Sao Paulo, Valcke said: "We are awaiting a final technical report. In the meantime I am having some technical discussions with the (construction) company but we don't know when the green light (to resume work) will be given.

"We are not in a crisis mood, looking at an alternative to Sao Paulo today. But Curitiba is facing the most problems and clearly won't be delivered before February 2014.

"The people from Curitiba attended a meeting yesterday and promised to organise themselves to get the stadium ready by the end of February 2014."

Brazil is using 12 stadiums for the finals, four more than originally stipulated by FIFA. The first six were ready in time to stage matches in June and July at the Confederations Cup, effectively the World Cup test event.

(Reporting by Mike Collett, editing by Ed Osmond and Stephen Wood)

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