Brazil is not yet ready to host the 2014 World Cup, football great Pele told the ESPN Soccernet website in an interview posted on Friday. According to Pele, chaotic organization and communication difficulties are the biggest problems facing Brazil as it prepares for the World Cup.
Brazil is not ready, Pele said. Not yet, it is not ready. The biggest problem, I think, is the organization, that is a big problem, so too is the communications.
But despite his fears, Pele said he was confident all will run smoothly by the time the World Cup gets under way. I am now working directly with the president of Brazil who is doing her best to help out with the organization, he said.
In July, President Dilma Rousseff named Pele the honorary ambassador for the World Cup. At the time, he criticized delays in building stadiums and other infrastructure.
Pele spoke to ESPN on Wednesday, the same day that Brazil's sports minister Orlando Silva resigned amid corruption allegations. He was the sixth minister forced out of Rousseff's government. Four of the others had also faced corruption allegations.
A recent government report on Brazil's preparations for the World Cup said that as of September, renovation work had not begun on five of the 13 airports that will be used during the tournament.
The report also said that seven of the 12 host cities have not begun other infrastructure work, and only nine of the nearly 50 transportation projects planned for the tournament were under way.
Earlier this month former Brazil striker Romario, now a congressman, told Agencia Brasil, the government's news agency: Maybe because of politics, work which was supposed to be halfway done hasn't even started.
The government, however, does not seem worried about the apparent lack of progress and is confident that everything will eventually get done. Officials also dismiss the notion Brazil is not doing enough.
Gil Castello Blanco, a spokesperson for the watchdog group Contas Abertas, maintained that Silva's departure would not halt preparations for the World Cup.
I don't think it will have any effect on the preparations for our two mega events, the World Cup and the Olympics. Silva is more of a figurehead. The preparations will go ahead without him, Castello Blanco said.
FIFA general secretary Jerome Valcke, meanwhile, is concerned over delays at new stadiums and developments to existing stadia. Adjustments to the world famous Maracana, in particular, may not be completed in time.
Valcke criticised the slow development taking place and believes Brazil will not be ready to properly host the Confederations Cup in 2013, which considered a warm-up for world football's showpiece event.
There is a lot of work to deliver, he told the Inside World Football Forum. We don't have stadiums, we don't have airports, we don't have a national transportation system in place and we are one month away from the preliminary draw.
The Maracana is definitely not currently a World Cup stadium and that's why it's closed. It will be ready at the last minute, a few months maybe, even a few weeks before the tournament if they don't speed up the process.
In Sao Paulo, the main city in Brazil, they will not even be able to play the Confederations Cup in 2013 because the stadium will not be ready.
Valcke believes one obstacle is that Brazil is too preoccupied with winning the competition, saying: In South Africa the main goal was to show the world that Africa could organise a World Cup. In Brazil, in a way the main issue is to win it. Otherwise they will talk about failure.