World Cup venues: Brazil faces race against time
World Cup whispers: some venues still not ready, and what does Wayne Rooney dream of?
RACE AGAINST TIME AT WORLD CUP VENUES Preparations for the Brazil World Cup, which starts in less than two weeks, are still not complete. Fifa's general secretary Jerome Valcke revealed he is harbouring concerns over the readiness of three venues; Natal, Porto Alegre and Sao Paulo, due to host the opening match of the tournament on 12 June. Workers face a "race against the clock" at the Arena das Dunas in Natal he tweeted. He added that there was "no time to waste" at the Arena Fonte Nova in Salvador ahead of Spain v Netherlands on 13 June.
FIFA'S FEAR OF THE FIXERS IN BRAZIL Another World Cup scare story, and this time it is the spectre of match fixing which is looming over the tournament. There were concerns about Nigeria's friendly with Scotland this week and Ralf Mutschke, Fifa's head of security, told the Daily Mail: "We know warm-up matches were thrown in the last World Cup... We are not expecting fixers to be travelling to Brazil and knocking on the hotel door of players or referees but I know there will have been approaches to players and referees." The final round of group games is most at risk, says the paper.
HODGSON SCOLDS PRESS OVER SCHOLES It's a long way off the bunker mentality that England have sometimes adopted but Roy Hodgson showed a hint of annoyance when asked to consider the opinion of former Man Utd star Paul Scholes, who yesterday claimed Wayne Rooney was past his best but the England boss lacked the courage to drop him. Unsurprisingly he disagreed with both of Scholes's claims and then scolded his questioners. "If I'm going to have to comment and defend people or challenge opinions, I'm going to be a very busy man at this World Cup," he said.
YOU'VE GOT TO HAVE A DREAM... Perhaps it is a mark of England's determination to keep their feet on the ground after the chastening experience of 2010, but Wayne Rooney's World Cup "dream" appears remarkably unambitious when compared to those of his rivals. In a series of videos entitled My World Cup Dream stars reveal their hopes. Cesc Fabregas wants to score the winner in the final, Paul Pogba would like to bag a hat-trick and win the tournament, Diego Forlan of Uruguay, Yaya Toure of Ivory Coasy and Kevin Prince-Boateng of Ghana all dream of playing in the final. What's Rooney's dream? Entertaining the fans.
EA SPORTS PUTS WORLD CUP ON HOLD
Video-game developer EA Sports has delayed the launch of its Fifa 14 World Cup update. According to an EA post, the launch of Fifa 14's Ultimate Team: World Cup mode had to be postponed because of "unforeseen issues" the developer encountered in final testing. The free update, which was supposed to be released yesterday, would have added a separate World Cup mode to Fifa 14 where gamers could build a team from scratch using the stars of this summer's World Cup. EA is now "working hard to have the update ready for release in the coming days".
PANINI STICKER PAIN Panini sticker-books are a rite of passage for football fans, but one West London collector has calculated that the hobby comes with an eye-watering price tag. Mathematician Mattew Scroggs has worked out fans will have to pay a staggering £413.24 to complete Panini's 2014 World Cup album as they would have to purchase 4,505 stickers to acquire the 640 needed to complete the album. "I haven't been put off," Scroggs told The Independent. "For me it's all part of the World Cup excitement. I get to know the players, stadiums, groups and fixtures through the album." Of course, if you have any friends, swapping duplicates can bring the price down considerably.