By Robbie Blakeley, Senior Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – With the Confederations Cup just four short months away, many are looking at the six stadium scheduled to host the event and their various amounts of completion. These arenas are entering the final stages of construction prior to the tournament and all will have to pass safety tests prior to hosting the international FIFA matches.
Two of the stadiums to be used during the Confederations Cup are already complete. The Castelão stadium in Fortaleza and the Mineirão in Belo Horizonte have been ready since the turn of the year.
Matches have occurred in both locations. Last month, during the 2013 Minas Gerais state championship, the derby between Minas giants Cruzeiro and Atletico-MG was won by the former 2-1.
In April, the Belo Horizonte stadium will be greeted by the arrival of the Brazilian national side. As the team prepares for the Confederations Cup, Luiz Felipe Scolari’s men will face fellow South Americans Chile in a friendly.
The Brazilian capital, Brasília, despite not being a city famed for football (soccer), will have an important role to play come June. The metropolis’ Mane Garrincha Stadium, named after the legendary Brazilian right winger of the late Fifties and early Sixties, is set to host the tournament’s opening ceremony and match, Brazil against Asian champions Japan.
At the time of writing, the Mane Garrincha is roughly ninety percent complete. The stadium should be delivered for FIFA inspection by the end of March, ready for use during the Confederations opening ceremony and match.
Despite some delays at the end of October, Recife’s Arena Pernambuco is also close to completion. Earlier this month the roof began to be installed and constructors Odebrecht estimate the stadium is roughly 83 percent ready.
If all things go to plan, the arena should be delivered within the next three to four weeks. The Arena Pernambuco is scheduled to host three matches during the Confederations Cup.
Perhaps the stadium causing the most concern currently is Rio’s own Maracanã Stadium. Threatened with further striker action and a third delay, a race is on to get the stadium ready before June 2nd, when the Brazilian national side are set to play the first official match at the renovated arena against England.
Original deadlines of December 2012 and February 2013 have already been missed. The most recent news is that the stadium will certainly be ready by May 28th, a matter of days before the England friendly.
Finally, Salvador’s Arena Fonte Nova, after a two month delay, is scheduled to be complete this coming Thursday, February 28th. The pitch was set in place last week and received its first cut as the finishing touches are made all around the stadium.
Salvador will have an important role to play in June as the third-placed play-off match will take place at the Fonte Nova. In addition, Brazil’s second group game, against Euro 2012 runners-up Italy, will be played at the stadium and has already sold out.