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Two stadiums miss Brazil's Confederations Cup deadline

By Shasta Darlington, CNN
April 15, 2013 -- Updated 1757 GMT (0157 HKT)
The rush to open Recife's stadium ahead of FIFA's deadline is revealed by the cranes outside the Arena Pernambuco on Sunday
The rush to open Recife's stadium ahead of FIFA's deadline is revealed by the cranes outside the Arena Pernambuco on Sunday
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Two stadiums scheduled to host Confederations Cup matches in June miss FIFA deadline
  • Organizers for arenas in Brasilia and Rio de Janeiro say their venues will open this month
  • FIFA deadline of 15 April comes exactly two months before Confederations Cup begins

(CNN) -- Brazil has delivered only four of the six stadiums that will be used in June's Confederations Cup, considered a dress rehearsal for next year's World cup, on time.

One of the venues -- Recife's Arena Pernambuco -- opened just a day before FIFA's April 15 deadline, which comes precisely two months ahead of the start of the continental competition.

The other three cities that succeeded in delivering arenas before the deadline are Fortaleza, Salvador and Belo Horizonte, which are all now scheduling games to test the facilities.

After initially setting stadiums a deadline of December 2012, FIFA had to push the date back in the face of repeated delays.

Brazil will host the Confederations Cup from June 15-30, using six different stadiums in six cities across the country.

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However, two of the designated arenas missed the deadline: the Estadio Nacional in Brasilia and the iconic Maracana in Rio de Janeiro.

Operators of the stadium in Brasilia, Brazil's capital city, say the arena is not too far behind schedule, with its opening planned for April 21.

Read: Valcke seeks Brazil and FIFA unity

The big question mark is over the legendary Maracana, which hosted the decisive World Cup finals clash in 1950.

It has repeatedly pushed back deadlines and run over budget and although officials said last week that it should be ready by April 27, that date is not considered definite.

After showing some largesse in the construction of stadiums for the Confederations Cup, FIFA's Secretary General has insisted that delays will not be tolerated when it comes to the World Cup itself.

"The deadline for the FIFA World Cup stadiums delivery stands firm as December 2013. There will be no compromise," Jerome Valcke said in a statement.

All eyes will be on Brazil when it hosts the Confederations Cup, which will also be a trial run of infrastructure -- from hotels to airports and urban transport.

More than half a million tickets have already been sold and many fans will want to travel from one city to another to follow their team.

"The next few weeks will be an acid test for the host cities," added Valcke, who has clashed with Brazilian authorities in the past when questioning the delay in preparations for FIFA's forthcoming events.

The eight-nation Confederations Cup pits continental champions against each other, with world champions Spain among the teams joining hosts Brazil in an intriguing line-up.

On Sunday, Fortaleza's Castelao stadium underwent a test event as it staged a local championship match.

In front of a crowd of 16,000, local organizers tested out such different areas as cleaning and refuse collection, transport, competitions, spectator services and IT.

"Every area received a very thorough assessment," Tiago Paes, the Stadiums Operations Manager for the Local Organizing Committee, told FIFA.com.

"There are always going to be changes here and there, but everything went off well."

The Castelao has already hosted 19 events since it was opened in the middle of January, with that number expected to rise to 30 prior to the start of the Confederations Cup.

Belo Horizonte is the next arena lined up to test facilities, with the Mineirao stadium set to host the Brazil-Chile friendly on April 24.

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