The beauty about football and the single biggest reason that it is so popular, is that anybody can play and they can do it anywhere, whether it be kicking the ball against your parents garage door or playing Sunday league with your mates, all you need is a pitch and ball, but at the highest level there are other factors such as stadiums to worry about.
With that in mind it seems scarcely believable that organisers of next year's World Cup in Brazil have revealed three of the stadiums are off track and will not meet FIFA’s completion deadline, a huge setback for the country that has a previous poor record for delivering stadiums at sporting events.
As far as news goes, the main focus on Brazil should be this Friday’s draw where the successful 32 qualifiers, including England, will learn their fate for the group stages, but instead criticism has been fired at the host nation amid a succession of failed promises and missed deadlines.
FIFA indicated that the arenas at Sao Paulo, Curitiba and Cuiaba would not be ready, as promised, by 31 December despite insisting that the date was set in stone and that they would not be impressed at being informed of late delivery.
As with all operations of this size it is inevitable that there will be hitches along the way and last week's tragic accident in which two workers were killed after a crane collapsed and damaged part of the stands at the Sao Paulo arena is one such reason for a delay, sadly for organisers the same excuses can’t be made of the stadiums at Curitiba and Cuiaba which are not expected until February, just four months before the World Cup kicks off.
The stadium in Sao Paulo which is due to host the opening match of the 2014 World Cup not been given a new completion date as investigators still unravel exactly what happened last week but FIFA President Sepp Blatter was in bullish mood yesterday as he insisted that Sao Paulo "will be ready".
FIFA had said it would not allow the deadline to be extended for the World Cup venues having tolerated similar delays prior to June's Confederations Cup when several venues missed the deadline for that tournament.
Blatter said: "We have just received a report. There are some small delays in construction of stadia. But so small that with one exception (Sao Paulo) we can say everything is ready.
"FIFA can trust the federal government, the state government and the respective city authorities to ready their sites in good time to host the event.”
FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke was not as optimistic and hinted that the problems which were ‘so small’ were in fact much worse, saying: "Curitiba is the one where we are facing the most problems and won't be delivered before the end of February 2014.
"We will be ready to get the stadium by the end of February 2014."
A motion echoed by Brazilian sports ministry executive secretary Luis Fernandes who indicated that the stadiums lagging behind would be delivered "in late January, or late February."
For me the strangest thing about the whole thing is that the timescale seems so wrong, but it shouldn’t be because when the bid was submitted the plans were made, I confess I don’t know the first thing about building a stadium of reconfiguring the entire infrastructure of a nation to host a sporting event but the people who were selected for the job obviously did.
There can’t be a problem with labour because without getting into the ethical issues, its widely available and very cheap, materials are also cheap and with half of Brazil’s rainforest getting the chop supplies are plentiful.
We all know that the 2022 World Cup will be in Qatar, the time of the year of course is still to be confirmed, (I’m voting for summer) and they have no stadiums of note but I’d bet my life they will be ready and far more spectacular that what Brazil are failing to deliver, after all dancing, sing and street parades are only good if the game is played in the street and in this case, they may well be.
image: © copagov