Concerns over preparations for this summer's 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil are sure to last right up until kickoff as one of Brazil's marquee venues, the Arena de Sao Paulo in the country's largest city is nowhere near ready to host a football match at full capacity.
According to the Washington Post's Marissa Payne, FIFA recently held a news conference to explain what work still needed to be completed on the Sao Paulo stadium, which is set to make its debut on June 12 when Brazil open Group A play against Croatia.
As a result of the delayed construction, Payne notes that FIFA won't have time to hold a test match at the full capacity of roughly 70,000.
Officials held a test event at the stadium on Sunday, but were unable to house the full capacity, settling for about 40,000 people instead. According to the Associated Press' Tales Azzoni, FIFA prefers to hold at least three test events in a venue prior to a World Cup match.
Adriano Pires, an infrastructure analyst in Brazil, explains the risk involved, per Azzoni:
"Not having a final test the way it should, with a capacity crowd, represents a risk both in terms of safety and comfort—things that a stadium like the Itaquerao must have."
In addition to completing construction of the venue, the FIFA officials revealed that there are number of other tasks still on the to-do list, including installing televisions, completing VIP sections and constructing and installing other furnishings and temporary structures, according to Payne.
Sky Sports reporter Geraint Hughes breaks down his first encounter with the stadium:
It appeared like a spaceship from the warren of roads as our driver weaved through the bumpy streets to get me and my cameraman as close as possible to the Sao Paulo World Cup Stadium. Then I looked properly and a large chunk of it looked, well, missing. One end of the £300 million stadium is very much unfinished. It has no roof and it just looked like scaffolding with no attempt yet to hide a pretty ugly facade.
How big of a concern are the issues with Arena de Sao Paulo?
These revelations are troubling for several reasons. Not only is the Arena de Sao Paulo scheduled to host six matches at this summer's tournament, but it's located in a well-known part of the country. Therefore, you have to wonder how the other 11 venues are coming along as the clock continues to wind down.
Beyond the potential embarrassment for FIFA, an unfinished or untested venue could possibly endanger spectators, especially with so many football fans set to descend on the country this summer.
Although the 2014 World Cup is over a week away, this report is certainly disconcerting for FIFA and those tasked with making this year's event a success.
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