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Jun 12, 2013

One year out, Brazil vows to be ready

BRASILIA, Brazil -- Brazil arrives at the one-year mark to the World Cup on Wednesday admitting to mistakes in its preparations but vowing to get its act together in time.

After facing difficulties getting its stadiums ready for the Confederations Cup, the warm-up tournament that begins in Brasilia on Saturday, Brazil is promising that things will be different ahead of the World Cup.

FIFA said it won't accept it any other way, and Brazilian authorities and local organizers say the delays that plagued construction work before the Confederations Cup won't be an issue next year.

Brazil just barely got six stadiums ready for the Confederations Cup. Only two of them were completed by the original deadline in December, and in some cases there was time for only one test event before the venues hosted official matches in the tournament for continental champions.

That was what happened in Brasilia and in Rio de Janeiro, home of the final at the renovated Maracana Stadium on June 30.

"I do believe we could have delivered them sooner to allow for the realization of more test events, which could have anticipated some of the problems that arose during those test events," Brazil Sports Minister Aldo Rebelo said. "Apart from that, I believe that all requirements were executed in accordance with expectations and that we will have a Confederations Cup that will be held as expected."

FIFA has already made it clear that Brazil will have to do a better job for the World Cup, when the expectations will be much higher and the number of visitors will increase significantly compared to the eight-team Confederations Cup.

The Brazilians said FIFA should not worry about the delivery of the remaining six stadiums being built for the World Cup.

"This first delivery was actually the hardest deadline to meet," Rebelo said on a conference call this week. "The evolution of the construction work of these (World Cup) stadiums ... indicates that, yes, they can and will be delivered in December (2013). We have been in close contact with the responsible parties for these stadiums to make sure that those deadlines are fulfilled."

The government said infrastructure projects which were not ready in time for the Confederations Cup will also be finalized by the World Cup.

"We have been monitoring transportation and urban mobility on a daily basis," Rebelo said. "These works will be delivered in time, together with the next six stadiums. Airport, security, telecommunications and urban mobility will be ready and compatible with the expectations held by the country and by the world."

But not everybody is celebrating in Brazil as the World Cup approaches. There have been complaints because of the high costs of the stadiums and of the government's decision to suspend laws to abide by FIFA requirements.

And on Saturday, the day Brazil opens the Confederations Cup against Japan, Rio residents evicted because of World Cup and Olympic projects will stage what they call a "People's Cup," calling attention to what they say are human rights violations. Local organizers and government officials have said all evictions have happened according to law.

Later Wednesday, FIFA Secretary General Jerome Valcke and World Cup ambassador Pele were to participate at an event at Copacabana Beach marking one year to the World Cup.

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