World Cup: Sao Paulo racing against the clock to get stadium fit for opening ceremony

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There are growing concerns that the new stadium in Sao Paulo, scene of a fatal accident two weeks ago, will not be ready for the start of the World Cup, writes Sky Sports' Chief News Reporter Bryan Swanson.

FIFA president Sepp Blatter raised more than a few eyebrows when he admitted there were no alternative arrangements in place, just yet, in Sao Paulo, telling a news conference: "For the time being, there's no plan B."

The new 65,000-capacity arena won't be finished until April 15, less than eight weeks before the World Cup opening ceremony.

It is not only a construction site but an accident site. Investigators continue to gather evidence where two workers were killed last month after a crane collapsed.

"My God," says cameraman Paul Davis, as our taxi bounces its way up the unfinished road towards the stadium. "This is much bigger than I thought."

Flimsy netting separates the area of the accident from the rest of the stadium. Steady streams of curious people come up to take photographs of the damage.

Accident investigators in Sao Paulo are continuing to inspect the stadium where England will play Uruguay in June

The crane remains in place, twisted on the ground, and there are no tarpaulin screens to shield the site from view, but security officials are sensitive when crews try to get too close and insist we stand behind a second perimeter fence.

"Someone got into a lot of trouble recently," says our local fixer. "They let a Brazilian camera crew get far too close."

Police hope to hand back the accident site to constructors by the end of this month but, until then, only investigators are allowed under the netting.

The opening ceremony is scheduled to take place here on June 12 before four group games, a round of 16 game and a semi-final, but the official responsible for Sao Paulo's World Cup planning says there is no need to panic.

"It will be concluded in April," says state secretary of planning Julio Semeghini. "It will have a good test in April and I am sure, I am confident, it will be ready in time."

As we filmed we were approached by Samuel Haddad, a passionate Corinthians fan, who was one of the first medical volunteers to arrive on the scene on November 27.

Just two days after that World Cup draw in Brazil there have been violent clashes between supporters on the final day of the domestic season.

He ran from a nearby restaurant but could do nothing to save the lives of the two workers. Haddad, an engineer, has several friends who are part of the construction team.

"I know these engineers and these guys have a lot of competence," he said. "They can rebuild countries after war. I think this is easy for them. They will complete it before the middle of April."

Most of the stadium's building site was declared safe to work at the beginning of this month but there seems no sense of urgency and almost every worker still has every Sunday off.

Close to the new ground, bridges from the train station over the main road are unfinished. The vast area outside resembles one big construction site where gridlocked traffic crawls along.

Sao Paulo is Brazil's largest city and, with chronic traffic congestion, many England fans will arrive at the stadium on one of the hourly trains from the centre.

But public transport isn't the safest option in a city where more than 84,000 robberies were reported in the first six months of this year.

England's opening World Cup game against Italy has been brought forward.

"It does get a bad press," Alex Ellis, British Ambassador to Brazil, told Sky Sports News. "But over the last few years data shows crime has gone down in Sao Paulo. It's moved to other parts of Brazil. It's a very big city with a population of around 20 million people."

One major travel website says fewer than 90 hotels have beds on June 19, the night England face Uruguay.

But if fans search they will find modest hotel beds, close to the city centre, for just over £30 on the night of England's second group game.

There will be a FIFA Fan Fest situated in Vale do Anhangabau, about 12 miles from the stadium.

"We want England fans to enjoy it here," says one barman by a drinks stall on the side of a bustling main road. "Don't worry, everything will be ready. Relax!"

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