Brazil 2014 World Cup head says plans now on track |

Brazil 2014 World Cup head says plans now on track

AP Sports Writer

JOHANNESBURG (AP) – Preparations for the 2014 World Cup are back on track just two months after FIFA publicly criticized organizers for missing deadlines, Brazil’s top soccer official has said.

“There are no problems,” Brazil soccer federation president Ricardo Teixeira said as the tournament’s official logo was launched Thursday.

He acknowledged uncertainty over Sao Paulo’s role as a host city after Morumbi Stadium was removed from the project last month – despite repeated denials it would have to be dropped.

FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke previously described Brazil’s lack of progress as “amazing.”

FIFA awarded the 2014 World Cup hosting rights three years ago, but Brazil has barely begun building and renovating the 12 stadiums it needs.

Teixeira said that “the situation is completely different” to when Valcke spoke.

“Some of the stadia have commenced building. We have already defined exactly what’s going to be happening in terms of budgets for the construction up to December,” he said through a translator.

He did not cite any specific details, however.

Teixeira said construction work at Belo Horizonte and Salvador had begun, but there were doubts over the status of Sao Paulo, Brazil’s biggest city, and Curitiba as hosts.

“We will come up with a definition about what role Sao Paulo will play in the World Cup,” Teixeira said. “Will there be a stadium built or not? How will they participate as a city?

“The issue with Sao Paulo will have to be solved as quickly as possible. Curitiba Stadium is facing some financial constraints, but once financial guarantees are in place construction will begin.”

Brazil also must upgrade airports essential to moving teams, fans and officials around such a large country.

“The three main priorities we have are airports, airports, airports,” Teixeira said.

Organizers also are considering dividing the 12 host cities into four regions to limit travel.

Teixeira also admitted that Brazil, which has a reputation for high urban crime, has issues guaranteeing security.

“It’s not surprising – this is a problem that’s not linked to any specific country,” he said. “We have sent a huge security group to South Africa, they were here for a few days and they had to analyze the situation and pick on those issues that needed to be sorted.”