FIFA’s Secretary General Jerome Valcke published his regular column today and in it gave the strongest hint yet that Recife will be cut from the Confederations Cup.

Next Thursday, FIFA will announce the cities that will host the tournament. So far, six are on the preliminary list: Brasilia, Salvador, Recife, Belo Horizonte, Fortaleza and Rio de Janeiro.

Recife is the big question mark because builders say it will be ready in February, only four months before the tournament starts.

Valcke said today that arenas must be ready six months ahead of time:

“This is a crucial moment for us organisers because once the ticket sales start it would be very problematic if a venue runs into challenges to be ready to host matches. And here I need to repeat myself when we speak about readiness. We do not mean the day of the tournament kick-off but with enough time to stage at least two proper test events. That is also why we always reiterate that the venues for the major FIFA tournaments need to be ready six months ahead of the first game.

“I know this sounds a long time but in reality it’s not. New venues particularly need more time to be fully tested at various events at different capacities. From electrics to crowd management, from stewards to public transport and parking management all processes must be well established to ensure that come the FIFA Confederations Cup next June – when Brazil will be in the spotlight of the world – we will not face any major operational obstacles.”

I mention the construction of the Arena Pernambuco in this recent Reuters piece.

I visited the stadium last week and it looks like it will be great, with steep stands and a cauldron atmosphere due the fact that the fans are on top of the players.

It would be a shame if it is not ready in time.

But all will be revealed next week.