World Cup chit-chat: Scolari has picked four captains for Brazil's squad
Brazil coach Luiz Felipe Scolari knows his 23-man squadfor the World Cup finals and has chosen Thiago Silva, David Luiz, Julio Cesar and Fred to act as captains, he said on Thursday.
"I have no doubts," Scolari said at the SaoJudasTadeuUniversity in Sao Paulo after a conference on psychology and football. "But I have to wait for the leagues that are under way to end. You never know what might happen."
The coach said he had not yet informed the 23 men who will seek to win to win Brazil's sixth world title -- and their first on home soil - in June and July this year. Even his deputy Carlos Alberto Parreira is still in the dark, he said.
"It's not a secret if two people know, not even if one of them is your wife," added Scolari.
"You won't see any surprises. If you make your own list you'll get 22 of them right."
The idea of sharing the responsibilities first came in 2002 when Scolari led Brazil to their fifth World Cup title. Cafu was the man who wore the armband and lifted the trophy in Japan.
But the wily coach also handed responsibilities to Roque Junior, the central defender considered one of the more intelligent players in the squad, and Roberto Carlos, the talker in the team, as well as to senior pros Ronaldo and Rivaldo.
Scolari dropped another clue about the make-up of his squad when admitting he would be cheering for Atletico Madrid to beat Chelsea in the Champions League semi-finals next week.
Scolari also backed two players out of form with their club sides. He spoke to Spurs midfielder Paulinho to inform him of travel plans and said he was not at all worried about Neymar’s struggles with Barcelona.
The young striker has been superb for Brazil, scoring 30 goals in 47 appearances, a mark only Pele reached in fewer games.
However, he has struggled this season with a Barcelona team going through an uncharacteristically rocky phase.
“Neymar is always fine,” Scolari said.
“It’s his team that’s not doing well and he’s part of that group. At international level, he will be as good as he always is.
“I see him very differently from the way some Spanish critics see him. I have no worries about him. None. Zero.”Scolari is due to announce his squad in Rio de Janeiro on May 7.
Image: Luiz Felipe Scolari head coach of Brazil gestures during the Confederations Cup
Photographs: Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images
World Cup stadium delays affect ticket availability
Brazil's failure to meet construction deadlines for World Cup stadiums means FIFA does not know how many tickets to make available for the tournament, which kicks off in less than two months, FIFA's marketing director Thierry Weil said on Thursday.
World soccer's governing body had wanted the 12 venues to be ready by December last year, but only the six used in the Confederations Cup last June were ready by then.
Of the remaining six, three are still not complete with the opening match set to take place on June 12.
"We can't say exactly how many tickets there will be because we don't know the exact number of seats in the stadiums," Weil said at a news conference in Rio.
"We have held back 7 percent of the tickets until we really know how many tickets will be available."
Brazil has had seven years to prepare for the tournament but is still racing to finish stadiums, airports, roads and other vital infrastructure.
At least one airport will greet passengers in a tarpaulin terminal building and several cities have either cut back plans to build roads, bus lines and railways or shelved the original plans altogether.
The biggest concern for FIFA is the stadiums and particularly the Arena Corinthians, which is scheduled to host the opening match between Brazil and Croatia on June 12.
The stadium was built to hold 48,000 people but some 20,000 temporary seats are being added for the tournament's six games and they are still under construction.
Stadiums in Curitiba and Cuiaba are also unfinished. Some 27,000 seats are still to be installed in Curitiba.
Weil said he hoped to have a definitive figure by the middle of May and begin last-minute sales soon after.
"At some point in May more tickets will go on sale with the completion of the stadiums," he said. "It's just taking time."
Another fear for FIFA is that it will not have enough of a window to test the stadiums properly.
"We need to test everything, the communications, lights, cables, all the things that need to work and unfortunately we can't do that in these stadiums," he said.
"We'd love to test these kind of things and then have time to react to any problems but we'll have to accelerate the process."
FIFA have so far sold more than 2.7 million tickets for the 64 matches, 58 percent of them to fans in the home nation. There are 200,000 currently on sale to the general public waiting to be snapped up, he said.
Of the more than 3 million tickets that will be available, 1.7 million were bought by fans through the FIFA ticketing web site, an increase of 400,000 on the previous record number sold that way in Germany in 2006.
Image: The interior of Arena Pantanal soccer stadium is pictured as it undergoes construction in Cuiaba
Photographs: Marcos Lopez/Reuters
Messi, Ronaldo and Neymar stolen in sticker heist
Avid World Cup sticker collectors in Rio de Janeiro were given a shock this week when a van carrying hundreds of thousands of Panini stickers was stolen during a delivery.
Thieves made off with some 300,000 of the adhesive stickers featuring players who will appear in the forthcoming World Cup finals in Brazil which start in June, according to local press reports on Thursday.
The glossy stickers, loved the world over by football fans since the first World Cup edition in 1970, were being taken to newsagents in the city when the delivery came unstuck.
However, Panini were quick to ward off panic among fans hoping to complete the collection of all 640 stickers, insisting supplies of Cristiano Ronaldos, Lionel Messis and Neymars were not running low.
"Panini can state that the city of Rio de Janeiro is well supplied and there is no shortage of official Panini products for sale," the company said in a statement.
Panini gave no details of the theft and a spokesperson would not swap any additional information when asked.
The stickers are hugely popular in Brazil with collectors young and old organising mass exchanges both online and at informal get-togethers. Some eight million of the albums are expected to be sold or distributed in Brazil, Panini said.
It would not be the first time Panini stickers were stolen. In 2010, before the South Africa World Cup, thieves broke into a distribution centre in Sao Paulo and made off with 135,000 packets of stickers. They were later found.
Image: A man walks past the banner of the official 2014 FIFA World Cup sticker album in Sao Paulo
Photographs: Paul Whitaker/Getty Images