Jurgen Klinsmann expects 'extreme' World Cup to be anything but perfect

Martin Rogers
Jurgen Klinsmann expects 'extreme' World Cup to be anything but perfect

STANFORD, Calif. – Jurgen Klinsmann believes the ongoing problems engulfing Brazil's preparations for hosting the World Cup this summer will make this year's tournament one of the most "extreme" in history.

As Klinsmann's United States men's national team began a two-week pre-tournament training camp that will lead to the naming of his final 23-man roster, the head coach emphasized the importance of his squad going to South America fully prepared to expect the unexpected.

Soccer's world governing body FIFA has repeatedly voiced its concerns at whether various stadiums and necessary infrastructure will be in place before the World Cup begins. Moreover, Rio de Janeiro's plans for staging the 2016 Summer Olympics have also fallen way behind schedule.

"I think it is not going to be a perfect World Cup," Klinsmann told a media conference on Wednesday. "Everybody kind of has a sense that things won't be finished and other infrastructure issues.

"But it is going to be an extreme type of World Cup. You have got to be prepared that you are not getting everything laid out on a nice table. It is going to be exciting. Brazil works differently. It is a total different extreme. It is a different country."

Despite being the nation most associated with soccer passion and having won the World Cup a record five times, Brazil has not hosted the event since 1950. This will be the first time the World Cup has come to South America since 1978 when Argentina tasted success on home soil, and plans to stage the global extravaganza have proven to be a stern challenge for organizers.

Questions remain as to whether stadiums in Cuiaba, Curitiba and Sao Paulo will be fully complete, while various regional airport renovations have dragged on past their estimated finishing dates.

With 12 host cities, each separated by a distance that makes air travel the only realistic transport option, the volume of fans from around the world will inevitably create a logistical strain on Brazil's airports.

Klinsmann himself experienced long delays when he visited Brazil for a national team training camp in January, although he does not expect World Cup teams to be directly affected this summer.

"[Brazilians] have a different mindset. They think differently about time," he said. "When we get upset after sitting two hours in a delay for a flight, they are not even getting upset after six hours. I was very upset waiting eight hours for my flight at one point.

"They are different and we take them the way they are and hopefully we do it with the right attitude and the right approach. There will be issues but the teams will be fine. But it will be a World Cup of patience. You have to be patient."

The bulk of Klinsmann's squad has already arrived at Stanford University, where the players will undergo full physical evaluations before the battle for positions begins in earnest.

An early and uncomfortable heat wave should ensure the players are fully tested in the opening days of camp and, despite Stanford's leafy surrounds, taken outside their comfort zone.

Maybe it is just as well, as the summer promises to bring regular helpings of the unusual and the unexpected.