Only a year away...
By Geraint Hughes. Last Updated: October 16, 2013 8:22am
The countdown is on for Brazil
The World Cup is just 12 months away and Brazil desperately wants to welcome the thousands of football fans that will not only add to the colour of a Brazilian World Cup, but also to the economies of the 12 cities hosting matches.
But will it be ready?
WORLD CUP STADIA
Belo Horizonte - READY
Cuiaba - NOT READY
Curitiba - NOT READY
Fortaleza - READY
Manaus- NOT READY
Natal - NOT READY
Porto Alegre - READY
Recife - READY
Rio de Janeiro - READY
Salvador - READY
Sao Paulo - NOT READY
Cynics say no, optimists say yes. The truth is probably somewhere in the middle. One Brazilian journalist I overheard has said, "it'll be ready, the paint might be wet though..."
FIFA general secretary Jerome Valcke told Sky Sports News at the unveiling of a World Cup countdown clock, on the Copacabana beach in Rio de Janeiro, that FIFA indeed had concerns, but now they wanted to allay fears of unbuilt stadia and an infrastructural mess.
Valcke said they had six stadiums of the 12 to be used for next year's tournament signed over to them. All of those six will be used for the Confederations Cup which begins on Saturday.
Of the remaining stadia, only Porto Alegre in the South of Brazil is ready, however Valcke says he expects all the others to be signed over to FIFA by December 2013 with the possible exception of Sao Paulo.
Sao Paulo has been a huge concern, but with the clock ticking, resources and pressure from FIFA means that the Sao Paulo stadium will be in FIFA hands by January 2014 at the latest.
Do they care?
So what about the people of Brazil? Do they care. In a word yes. Football is king here. Copacabana beach in Rio is two miles long. Every few yards someone is kicking a football. Most can't wait for the World Cup as most of them don't remember the 1950 World Cup in Brazil when the hosts lost to Uruguay at the Maracana.
They want a party, they're good at it! Carnival and New Year's parties here in Rio attract millions. To add to that, thousands of hotel rooms are being added in anticipation of the World Cup and the Olympics in Rio in 2016.
"So what about the people of Brazil? Do they care. In a word yes. Football is king here"
There is some concern over ticket prices, although FIFA appear to be yielding to pressure to lower prices for tickets that don't include hospitality, the public remain unconvinced right now, but maybe that has as much to do with the faith the country's fans has in it's team.
They think Brazil could do well, but there's no ringing endorsement like previous generations have been given.
Pele believes the team need to train and play together more and that the Confederations Cup is coming at the right time. Defensively he's happy with what Manager Phil Scolari has, but the midfield is a concern and is there is too much of a burden on Neymar's young shoulders to actually deliver when it matters.
Lots can be done in 12 months, what recent World Cup or even Olympic Games has not suffered a year out, but Brazil needs to get cracking on and off the pitch if it is to deliver not just a passable World Cup experience, but a carnival of football.