World Cup stadium completion in the lap of the gods

The stadium that will host the opening match of the 2014 World Cup will not be ready until April 14 or 15, less than two months before the tournament kicks off, FIFA president Sepp Blatter has confirmed

The Itaquera Arena in Sao Paulo was originally supposed to be ready this month but an accident last week in which two workers were killed, has set the deadline for completion back.

Blatter, sounding less than confident that the stadium would be ready, acknowledged that best hopes now rest on a wing and a prayer.

“We believe it is a question of trust and that it will be done,” he told reporters.

“For the time being there is no Plan B and what FIFA can do now is ask God, Allah, whoever, that no more accidents shall arise in connection with the World Cup. That is all we can do and we hope the reconstruction can start as soon as possible.”

Host nation Brazil will kick off the tournament at the stadium on June 12.

The setback is the latest in a string of delays involving stadiums and infrastructure.

Only two of six stadiums built for June’s Confederations Cup were delivered on time.

The other six for the World Cup were scheduled to be handed over this month but at least half will be late.

Arenas in Cuiaba and Curitiba will be delivered by mid-February, officials said earlier this week, while playing down the delays.

“At every single wedding I’ve been to, the bride was always late,” said Sports Minister Aldo Rebelo. “The wedding always went ahead despite this. It is possible that one or two are delayed, but the most important thing is that they’ll all be delivered.”

It’s good to see he’s taking things seriously. At times like this, you can see why FIFA general secretary, Jerome Valcke, frustrated by the seemingly endless delays, felt compelled to tell the world that Brazil needed a “kick up the backside”.