Rising above delays and reports of planned public protest, FIFA is finalising preparations for Friday’s draw for next year’s World Cup.
The draw at the northeastern Brazil resort of Costa do Sauipe will see world football’s governing body draw eight groups of four in a complex system designed to separate teams from the same continent as far as possible. But some groups will contain two European sides, with the Old Continent having 13 of the 32 qualifiers.
FIFA has shrugged off Brazilian admissions that six of the 12 venues are running late.
Brazilian Sports Minister Aldo Rebelo said the six would not meet a December 31 deadline but would be ready for pre-tournament tests in late January.
The exceptions are Curitiba, set only to be fully ready in February, and Sao Paulo, scene of a fatal accident which left two construction workers dead last week and where an investigation is under way.
Work at Cuiaba remains behind schedule and Rebelo says the stadiums in Porto Alegre, Manaus and Natal will only be inaugurated in January, partially owing to President Dilma Rousseff’s full pre-Christmas agenda as she plans to attend.
“There are delays but they will not be significant. What matters is that we are ready to go in January,” Rebelo said.
A further headache — albeit one at arm’s length — was a Wednesday announcement by the “anonymousbrasil” protest group that they plan to make plain their opposition not only to government corruption, but also the estimated $11 billion cost of staging the World Cup, with a Friday march.
The group said on Wednesday that hosting the draw in the chic Costa do Sauipe resort, well away from urban populations, was a means of “avoiding the formation of protests (whose images) would be beamed round the world by TV.” — AFP