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Soccer-Maracana will be ready next month - Brazilian officials

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

By Pedro Fonseca

RIO DE JANEIRO, March 8 (Reuters) - Local officials believe Rio de Janeiro's Maracana stadium, considered by FIFA to be the biggest headache in the run-up to the Confederations Cup in June, will be ready to stage a test event next month.

The rebuilding of the famous arena, which was built for the 1950 World Cup, has been plagued by delays and the completion date has twice been put back.

"We know we do not have an easy schedule but the Maracana will be ready to stage test events as of April 27," said Regis Fichtner, chief of staff of the Rio state government which owns the huge arena.

"In total we will organise two closed and one major public test events ahead of the Confederations Cup to make sure all operational aspects at the renovated stadium will have undergone detailed testing," he added in a statement published by soccer's ruling body FIFA.

Fichtner, speaking after a meeting between FIFA, the local organising committee, the Brazilian federal government and local authorities, said the events would include the friendly between Brazil and England on June 2.

The Confederations Cup, to be held in the second half of June, is considered a dress rehearsal for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

The Maracana will host seven matches at the World Cup including the final.

"We will continue working very hard together to achieve our clear and common joint goal: to deliver a perfect FIFA Confederations Cup," said Ricardo Trade, chief executive of the local organising committee.

Brasilia, Belo Horizonte, Fortaleza, Recife and Salvador will also stage matches at the June tournament.

FIFA had demanded that all six stadiums be ready by December but only Fortaleza and Belo Horizonte managed to meet that deadline.

Benedicto da Silva, president of construction company Odebrecht, said 6,500 workers were working daily to meet the latest deadline.

"Our technical team has developed a detailed timeline which we are committed to following, namely to make every effort to fully deliver the completed upgrades by 27 April," he said.

FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke said earlier this week the Maracana was the organisation's biggest worry.

"I am satisfied to know the Maracana will be totally operational on April 27 and there will be three test events," said Valcke on Twitter. (Reporting by Brian Homewood, editing by Tony Jimenez)

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/thomson-reuters/130308/soccer-maracana-will-be-ready-next-month-brazilian-officials