Football stadiums across Brazil will be ready for the World Cup and will give football fans the “best incarnation of the tournament to date” despite reports of delays in building work, according to Fifa president Sepp Blatter.
Concerns were raised over the country’s preparations at the end of last year after it missed a 31 December deadline for all 12 stadiums to be completed. The stadium in Coritiba, Sao Paulo and Cuiaba are not expected to be handed over to Fifa until mid-April – only six weeks before the tournament is due to start.
However, Mr Blatter told Fifa.com that he expects the country to meet its target.
He said: “Despite all the criticism, it will be the best ever World Cup. The rhythm of the football is different, the competition is different. We have 32 teams now and back then [at the 1950 World Cup in Brazil] there wasn’t even 16.
“We have had competitions such as the one in Italy [in 1990] where they hadn’t finished putting in seats the day before the first match, but here we will be ready.
“I am sure that in March all of the stadiums will be completed and we will have enough time to do some rehearsals and I’m sure these modern stadiums will respond to the expectations of the spectators and the players.”
His comments come after he was reported to have criticised the country for its slow start in preparing for one of the biggest sporting events in the world.
Brazil’s president Dilma Rousseff said her country would stage the “cup of cups” and that the demand for tickets demonstrates the confidence people have in Brazil hosting the event.
She said: “We love football and we will receive this cup with pride and we will make it the cup of cups. The World Cup will be at home in Brazil as this is the country of football.”
Two people have died on two separate sites during World-Cup related construction projects. In late November a crane collapsed into the Arena do Sao Paulo, while a worker at the Arena Amazonia in Manaus fell to his death from the stadium roof.