Brazilian football legend Pele says 2014 World Cup will be "fantastic"
FIFA has confirmed that three stadiums will miss deadline due to delays
Three-time World Cup winner Pele insists his country will be ready
Pele has backed Brazil to deliver a “fantastic” World Cup amid growing fears the country will not be ready in time to host football’s showpiece event.
The legendary former striker, who won three World Cups with Brazil between 1958 and 1970, has rejected accusations that delays to a number of the 12 venues hamper his country’s ability to put on a spectacle.
FIFA , the game’s world governing body, has confirmed it expects all six stadiums still under construction to miss the deadline of December 31.
“I’ve no doubt,” Pele told CNN when asked if he thought the World Cup would be a success.
“We had a little problem with the Confederations Cup (in June) but I’ve no doubt the World Cup will be a fantastic show.”
Two people were killed last month at Arena Corinthians when a crane hoisting a part of the metal roof collapsed, causing the piece to fall, partially damaging the building, according to a statement released by the construction company, Odebrecht Infrastructure.
After meetings ahead of Friday’s World Cup draw, FIFA President Sepp Blatter said it had received confirmation that Arena Corinthians would not be completed until the middle of April.
“It is a question of trust,” he said at a press conference at the Costa Do Sauipe resort where the draw will be held. “For the time being there is no Plan B.”
Despite the setback, Pele is adamant that Brazil will be ready for the tournament, which is scheduled to start in Sao Paulo on June 12.
“I think Brazil has the stadiums,” he said.
“We have eight months to go before the World Cup. We have to forget about the stadiums and pay attention to the game.”
FIFA also confirmed that stadiums in Cuiaba, Manaus, Natal and Porto Alegre have yet to confirm their schedules, but are expected to host their first events in January 2014. Curitiba, meanwhile, is scheduled to host its first match in late February or early March.
Brazil has not hosted the World Cup since 1950 – when it lost 2-1 in the deciding match to Uruguay.
It is a result which still rankles with Pele.
“Listen, if I was God, I would like to see Brazil play against Uruguay,” he added. “It’s a good opportunity to get revenge.
“To talk about the possibility today … of course we have two national teams that play very good.
“I think Germany is at a very good level. Spain has a chance to get to the final and Brazil.
“At the moment those are the three national teams, but you cannot forget Argentina, Italy, England – all the teams that have tradition to be in the final.
“But I hope Brazil get to the final.”
Pele sat down with CNN in Sao Paulo where he was shooting a Subway commercial with swimming champion Michael Phelps.
He is set to take part in Friday’s World Cup draw where all 32 teams will discover their fate.
But the 73-year-old says he is desperate to avoid pulling balls out of the pots in case he hands Brazil an impossible task to get through the group stage.
“I don’t know exactly what my role will be but normally when I’ve been at other World Cup draws in other countries. my role was to take the ball, do interviews and talk with people.
“But here in Brazil, I will not try to take the ball because I’m afraid I won’t put Brazil in a good group.”