World Cup - Corinthians defy FIFA after warning over stadium delays

Brazilian club Corinthians, owners of the stadium which will stage matches in Sao Paulo at the 2014 World Cup, defied FIFA on Tuesday after being given a stern warning over delays in building the arena.

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An aerial view of Arena Sao Paulo stadium, known as "Itaquerao", which will host the opening match of the 2014 FIFA World Cup, Sao Paulo March 28, 2013. (REUTERS)

FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke angered the club by reiterating that soccer's governing body would not tolerate any failure to meet the December deadline for the completion of the stadium, even suggesting matches could be moved elsewhere.

Corinthians, whose Itaquerao stadium is due to stage six World Cup matches including the opening game, replied that FIFA were welcome to move the games and said they would not accept any pressure.

"We have said clearly that delays are not possible for the World Cup," Valcke told reporters in Brasilia after visiting the Mane Garrincha stadium, which will be used for both next month's Confederations Cup and the World Cup.

"We are going to discuss the situation in Sao Paulo very firmly," he added, suggesting that FIFA could even transfer matches elsewhere.

"We can change everything until the tickets start to be sold, which gives us until August 1 to change the stadiums."

Corinthians, who do not currently have their own stadium, had originally planned to build a 48,000 capacity arena but agreed to add another 20,000 temporary seats to accomodate next year's World Cup.

The club said FIFA had agreed to give them an extra two months after work on the stadium was delayed by bureaucratic difficulties.

"If FIFA understand that they have to move the venue for the opening game, then they can be our guests," said the club.

"In the case of Corinthians, the deadline was extended by Valcke himself until February 2014.

"The aim of Corinthians has always been to serve the city, the state and the country. That's why the club increased the capacity of the stadium and we will not accept any type of pressure."

Valcke upset Brazilians last year when he said the country needed "a kick up the backside" following numerous delays in preparations.

Four of the six stadiums which will be used at the Confederations Cup over-ran the deadline for completion but FIFA has emphasised it will not allow similar delays before the World Cup itself.

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