Sao Paulo could lose World Cup matches: FIFA

Rio de Janeiro, May 15 (IANS) FIFA has warned that Sao Paulo could be stripped of its status as a 2014 World Cup host city due to stadium construction delays.

Local officials last week said the Itaquerao Stadium would not be ready until at least March next year, more than two months after the FIFA deadline. But FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke Tuesday said there would be no compromise on a requirement that construction work on Brazil's 12 World Cup venues be completed by December, reports Xinhua.

"Work has to speed up. And don't forget, it's not a threat. We can change everything until the first minute of ticket sales on the first of August," Valcke said during a visit to Brasilia's Mane Garrincha stadium.

Each of the country's six host stadiums for next month's Confederations Cup - considered a dry run for the World Cup - overshot their original deadlines of December 2012. But Itaquerao, which will stage six World Cup matches, including the tournament opener and one of the semifinals, has caused the greatest concern for FIFA.

Developer Odebrecht is still awaiting a promised $200 million from state-run banks it says is needed to step up the pace of works.

Valcke will visit Rio de Janeiro's Maracana Stadium Wednesday, which will be officially reopened June 2 for an international friendly between Brazil and England.

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