FIFA delays decision over 2014 venues

RIO DE JANEIRO - FIFA will announce the 12 host cities for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil in May and not later this month as originally planned, world football's governing body said on Wednesday. The decision was originally due to be announced at a meeting of the FIFA executive committee on March 19-20 in Zurich, with 17 cities putting themselves forward as candidates. FIFA said the delay followed a decision to increase the number of host cities from 10 to 12 at Brazil's request. "The selection of the 12 host cities for the 2014 FIFA World Cup will be made at the FIFA executive committee meeting taking place at the end of May....," it said in a statement published on the Brazilian Football Confederation website. "Since there is no imperative need for an immediate decision on the choice of the host cities, FIFA, in agreement with the Brazilian Local Organising Committee, has opted for giving more time to the analysis of the reports received after the last inspection conducted in 17 cities of Brazil." The candidates are Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo and Belo Horizonte in the south-east, Porto Alegre, Curitiba and Florianopolis in the south, Campo Grande, Cuiaba, Goiania and Brasilia in the centre-west, Salvador, Natal, Recife and Fortaleza in the north-east, plus the Amazonian cities of Rio Branco, Manaus and Belem. Brazil was awarded the tournament unopposed in October 2007. FIFA had earmarked the competition for South America under the now abandoned rotation system and no other country for the region put forward a bid. Brazilians are divided over whether the country should host the tournament with many believing priority should be given to spending money to address problems such as poverty, unemployment and rampant crime. Critics also wonder whether Brazil will be able to bring its dilapidated stadiums and creaking transport infrastructure up to the standards demanded FIFA.