FIFA Chief: Brazil Lags In Its World Cup Work
Caroline Wozniacki's engagement ring is seen on her ring finger after her women's singles match against Julia Gorges of Germany at the Sydney International tennis tournament in Sydney Monday, Jan. 6, 2014. Wozniacki and Northern Irish golfer Rory McIlroy announced their engagement on New Year's Eve. (AP Photo/Daniel Munoz)
Geneva — FIFA president Sepp Blatter criticized Brazil’s slow preparations for the World Cup, calling the country further behind than any other hosting the international event during his tenure.
Brazil has completed only six of the 12 World Cup stadiums despite a FIFA deadline to finish by the end of 2013.
“Brazil has just realized what it means to organize a World Cup,” Blatter said in an interview with Swiss newspaper 24 Heures. “They started a lot too late. It is the country which is the furthest behind since I’ve been at FIFA and, moreover, it’s the only one that had so much time — seven years — to prepare itself.”
Six of the stadiums were ready for last year’s Confederations Cup. One of the remaining six was symbolically delivered on New Year’s Eve, although it won’t be fully ready until the end of the month.
Delays have included financial problems, worker safety issues and construction-site accidents. Three construction workers died at stadiums late last year.
Wozniacki Advances At Sydney
Sydney — Only days after her New Year’s Eve engagement to golfer Rory McIlroy, Caroline Wozniacki opened her 2014 season on Monday with a 3-6, 6-2, 6-4 win over Julia Goerges of Germany in the first round of the Sydney International.
Wozniacki withdrew from the Brisbane International last week after hurting her right shoulder in practice and struggled early against Goerges, who was replacing the injured Sloane Stephens in the draw.
Another former No. 1, Jelena Jankovic, lost 6-4, 6-2 to Ekaterina Makarova of Russia in the first round earlier Monday.
In other action:
∎ The Hobart International had another injury setback Monday when fifth-seeded Flavia Pennetta withdrew citing a wrist injury, a day after Venus Williams pulled out following her run to the final at the ASB Classic in Auckland, New Zealand.
Top-seeded Samantha Stosur needed five match points before beating American qualifier Madison Brengle of the United States 6-7 (4), 6-1, 7-6 (5).
Elliott Joins JRM
Charlotte, n.c. — Chase Elliott will race for the Nationwide Series championship this season with JR Motorsports.
NAPA Auto Parts will sponsor Elliott, reversing its decision to leave NASCAR.
NAPA ended its multimillion-dollar sponsorship of Martin Truex Jr. one year into a three-year contract extension with Michael Waltrip Racing. NAPA’s decision was fallout from MWR’s September attempt to manipulate a race to get Truex into the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship.
Now the Atlanta-based company has decided to return for a 19th season in NASCAR to back the son of former Cup champion Bill Elliott. The Elliotts are from Dawsonville, Georgia, about an hour from NAPA headquarters.
Elliott will drive his father’s trademark No. 9 for JRM, and will be paired with crew chief Greg Ives.
Hornish Driving for Gibbs
Charlotte, n.c. — Sam Hornish Jr. will drive seven Nationwide Series races for Joe Gibbs Racing this season.
Hornish will share the No. 54 Toyota with Kyle Busch, who will drive the car in 26 races.
He moves to Gibbs after 10 years with Penske Racing. Hornish finished second in the Nationwide series championship race last season.
But Penske decided not to bring Hornish back this year, partly because of sponsorship issues and partly because the organization believed it was time for Hornish to move on to a Sprint Cup Series ride.
With very few open seats available, Hornish landed at JGR in the shared seat.
Hornish will drive at Talladega in May, both Iowa events, at Road America, Chicagoland, Mid-Ohio, and Kentucky in September.