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03 Mar 2012 06:30
Fifa general secretary Jérôme Valcke made a scathing attack on Brazil’s preparations for the 2014 World Cup on Friday, saying “not a lot is moving” and organisers needed “a kick up the backside”.
Valcke, who has continually raised concerns about the tournament, said time was running out and there was no “Plan B” in place.
However, Brazil’s sports minister Aldo Rebelo hit back, telling reporters in Brazil that his priority was for native Indians and low-income families to be able to go to matches, while Fifa wanted to make a profit.
Soccer’s ruling body is particularly concerned about transport and accommodation issues and the sluggish movement through Brazilian bureaucracy of World Cup laws relating to the sale of alcohol is also worrying Fifa.
“I don’t understand why things are not moving,” Valcke told reporters. “The stadiums are not on schedule any longer—and why are a lot of things late?
“The concern is nothing is made or prepared to receive so many people.
I am sorry to say but things are not working in Brazil.
“You expect more support,” added Valcke who is in England for the annual meeting of the International Football Association Board, Fifa’s law-making body.
“We should have received these documents signed by 2007 and we are in 2012.
Brazil was awarded the World Cup in 2007 although the decision had been on the cards since 2003 when the other nine South American federations agreed to support the country as their only candidate.
That decision was taken after the tournament had been ear-marked for the South America under Fifa’s short-lived rotation system.
Valcke said the tournament would go ahead but warned the fans could suffer.
Not enough hotels
“There are not enough hotels,” he added.
“You have more than enough in São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro but if you think about Manaus you need more.
“Let’s say in Salvador you have England vs Holland and you have 12% of the stadium with English fans and 12% Dutch—that’s 24% of 60 000 fans. Where are they all going to stay?
“The city is nice but the way to get to the stadium and all the organisation of transportation has to be improved.”
Fifa had initially planned to base teams in just one part of Brazil to minimise travel but organisers explained matches had to be spread across the country. Valcke said that made for extra demands.
“We made the decision to move the teams and it means we were criticised,” said Fifa’s general secretary.
“If you follow one team you will have to fly 8 000km.
“We did it at the request of Brazil. Having supported the decision we have to ensure the fans and the media ... will be able to follow their team.”
Valcke also said it appeared Brazil were more concerned with winning the World Cup than organising a good tournament.
“Our concern is nothing is made or prepared to receive so many people because the world wants to go to Brazil,” he added.
“That’s the big difference between South Africa in 2010 and Brazil. The people don’t care about security, they don’t care about the weather—it’s amazing.
“In South Africa it was winter, it was dark. In Brazil the weather will be perfect. But I can tell you from the other side of the organisation it is not exactly that.”
On his last trip to the country in January, Valcke repeated his previous call for a quick resolution to the issue of World Cup laws.
Fifa expressed concern over alcohol-selling laws in stadiums and demands for lower ticket prices for students and pensioners.
Now it seems, the organisation’s concerns are more acute.
“We have just over a year before the Confederations Cup and two years before the World Cup,” said Valcke.
“South Africa’s priorities were to organise the World Cup not win it. It seems all Brazil wants to do is win it, and that must change.”
The South Africans were knocked out in the first round of the 2010 finals, a tournament won by Spain.
Brazil sports minister Rebelo said negotiations would continue.
“Fifa is a private entity and it doesn’t want the same as us from the World Cup. They are looking for profits. I want tickets for native Indians to watch matches in Manaus and for low income families to be able to take part in the event.
“So we have to negotiate.
“Fifa may think that Brazil is asking too much but the fact is that Brazil has already done far more for world soccer than it’s asking for at the moment.”
Former Brazil striker Romario, now a congressman, said Fifa’s demands were an affront to Brazil’s sovereignty.
“I repeat that Fifa is not above Brazilian sovereignty and I will continue fighting to guarantee Brazil’s sovereignty in the Chamber of Deputies.”
Brazil previously hosted the World Cup in 1950 when their team lost to Uruguay in the decisive match in one of the competition’s biggest upsets. - Reuters
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