You know things are grave when Pelé, that most malleable of sporting icons, feels the need to break from the party line. The former Brazil star, whose stance on the protests that swept the country during last summer's Confederations Cup (rough outline: pipe down and enjoy the football) drew such ire from many of his countrymen, became the latest to voice his concern over the stuttering preparations for the World Cup this week.
"We knew six years ago that we were going to host the tournament," O Rei said with a sigh at a PR event in Mexico. "Now here we are, one month before it starts and there are unfinished stadiums and other problems. It's shameful and frustrating."
For once, it is hard to argue with him. The FIFA deadline for the World Cup arenas – December 31 – came and went like a feather on the breeze. Sao Paulo's stadium, the Arena Corinthians, staged its first match at the weekend. The Arena da Baixada in Curitiba – one of a number of grounds to be renovated rather than built afresh – was almost cut from the schedule in October after repeated hold-ups, only for FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke to grant a stay of execution. At every turn come new delays.
Read the rest of this piece on the ESPN website.