By Zjan Shirinian

Jérôme Valcke inspects the Arena da Baixada in Curitiba, one of a number of stadiums causing FIFA a headache as the World Cup approaches ©AFP/Getty ImagesApril 22 - The stadium hosting the opening game of the FIFA World Cup "will be ready" despite a continuing "race against time", the governing body's secretary general Jérôme Valcke has said.

Three workers have been killed at the Arena de Sao Paulo during construction work which, as with several other World Cup stadiums in Brazil, has been blighted by lengthy delays.

With 50 days to go before the stadium plays host to Brazil's clash with Croatia to raise the curtain on the tournament, Valcke is visiting four venues still giving FIFA concerns.

The stadium in Sao Paulo will host a test event - a Brazilian championship match between Corinthians and Figueirense – on May 17 or 18.

"This will give us three weeks to address anything that is not working," said Vlacke after his tour of the facility.

"It's a race against time and with only 50 days to go before the Opening Ceremony, we don't have a single minute to lose."

Last week the stadium was handed over to Corinthians, who will play their games at the stadium after the World Cup.

But that was described as a "symbolic act" by Corinthians president Mario Gobbi, with work still to be completed.

It will be a race against time to get the Arena de Sao Paulo ready, but Jérôme Valcke says the work needed will be done ©AFP/Getty ImagesIt will be a race against time to get the Arena de Sao Paulo ready, but Jérôme Valcke says the work needed will be done ©AFP/Getty Images

Sao Paulo deputy mayor Nadia Campeao said: "We are aware of everything we have done over the last three years and we are also aware that there's still a lot of work ahead of us, and that time is of the essence.

"In regards to the area around the stadium, the projects will be handed over before May 10 and included in the test events to be carried out later that month."

The stadium's permanent capacity will be 48,000, but 20,000 temporary seats are being installed for the World Cup.

These stands are still under construction and the completion of other temporary installations is ongoing.

"The fatal accidents that have taken place have contributed to the delays the project has suffered, but the Corinthians board and the companies entrusted with the task of setting up the temporary structures have given their assurances that everything is on schedule," said Brazilian Minister of Sport Aldo Rebelo.

A worker died last month after falling 25 feet at the stadium as he installed temporary stands, while two men died when a crane collapsed in November.

Together with the Local Organising Committee, Valcke also visited Curitiba in the south of the country.

The Arena da Baixada will host four group matches including the defending champions Spain against Australia.

It is another stadium which has been hit by delays with construction

Even the grass at the Arena da Baixada in Curitiba was inspected by Jérôme Valcke as he toured the venue ©AFP/Getty ImagesEven the grass at the Arena da Baixada in Curitiba was inspected by Jérôme Valcke as he toured the venue ©AFP/Getty Images

After his tour and meetings with officials, Valcke told a news conference: "There's clearly a lot of work still to be done.

"There will be a test event here on May 14, which should be carried out with the stadium at full capacity, just as it will be during the World Cup itself."

The stadium's first World Cup game is on June 16, when Iran play Nigeria.

Brazilian Minister of Sport Rebelo said: "I'm a kind of critical optimist.

"I trust everyone involved to organise the kind of World Cup that Curitba deserves.

"Through tremendous hard work, the Parana state government, the city of Curitiba and Atletico Paranaense have overcome the challenges they faced."

In January, Curitiba was warned by FIFA that it faced losing the four matches it was scheduled to host if it did not progress work to its satisfaction.

The following month, FIFA withdrew the threat after another inspection.

Valcke is due to visit the Arena Pantanal in Cuiabá and the Estádio Castelão in Fortaleza later this week.

All the stadiums were due to be completed by December.

The tournament begins on June 12, with the final in Rio de Janeiro on July 13.

Contact the writer of this story at [email protected]

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