GENEVA — FIFA president Sepp Blatter on Monday urged Brazil to speed up its 2014 World Cup preparations, warning that Rio and Sao Paulo might not be ready to host Confederations Cup matches a year beforehand.
"If you make a comparison between the state of play in South Africa and Brazil three years before the World Cup, Brazil is behind Africa. It shouldn't be said but it's a fact," the head of world football's governing body told journalists.
"If they carry on working like that when we have the Confederations Cup... a year before the World Cup as a rehearsal, there won't be matches in Rio and no matches in Sao Paulo," he added. "The World Cup stadiums are still not ready."
Blatter said he was waiting for "a bit of effect" from the five-time World Cup winners "because it's not moving forward, it's not moving forward very fast".
"What they should do in Brazil is put a little bit more speed in the organisation," he added.
But Brazilian Sports Minister Orlando Silva responded to Blatter's criticism by saying work in 10 of the 12 cities was progressing "at full speed".
"We have some problems with the Natal and Sao Paulo stadiums but in the other cities the work is going ahead at full speed," Silva said.
"I understand FIFA's worry and concern, but we don't want to talk with them. We only want to work so the calendar is maintained."
Silva, however, added that he too was concerned with the state of progress in works in the transport sector, notably airports.
Work on almost all of the 12 World Cup venues in the country is behind schedule, while airports in Brazil are also saturated, with flight delays and cancellations a common daily occurrence.
Retired Brazilian soccer legend Pele claimed last month that Brazil was "running the risk of being red-faced in the way it is managing the World Cup".