Fri, May 11, 2012 - Page 19 News List

Brazil tries to avoid FIFA World Cup collapse

AFP, RIO DE JANEIRO and BRASILIA

The appointment of an ally of Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff to the organizing committee of the 2014 World Cup was widely seen by sports experts in the South American country on Wednesday as a last ditch effort to avoid the tournament collapsing.

World governing body FIFA announced on Tuesday in Zurich that the Brazilian government would have a representative on the Local Organizing Committee (LOC), which had until now been headed by Brazilian Football Confederation president Jose Maria Marin and former soccer stars Ronaldo and Bebeto.

Brazilian Ministry of Sport -Executive-Secretary Luis Fernandes has been appointed as an LOC representative.

Despite pouring millions of dollars into the construction and modernization of stadiums, airports, roads and public transport for the World Cup, work is -seriously -behind schedule. FIFA fear that some stadiums — including the -legendary -Maracana in Rio, where the final will be played — will not be ready to host the Conferedations Cup in June next year, considered a test run for the World Cup.

The decision that FIFA and Rousseff’s government would take over the organization was taken “because it was perceived that it didn’t make sense that those who paid the bills were not represented in the LOC,” said sports commentator Juca Kfouri, from the daily O Estado de Sao Paulo.

Meanwhile, Brazil’s senate on Wednesday approved the sale of beer during the World Cup matches, as demanded by FIFA, despite warnings from some opposition members.

The measures had already been approved in late March by the Brazilian Chamber of Deputies and the Senate made no amendments.

The bill, which still has to be ratified by Rousseff, will also allow beer to be sold in stadiums during the Confederations Cup, but some lawmakers have expressed concern.

Alcohol sales in sports arenas have been banned in Brazil since 2003, and some lawmakers said they feared its renewed availability could lead to violence.

“It’s dangerous,” said Brazilian Senator Jose Agripino Maia, from the opposition DEM party. “Just imagine a Brazil-Argentina final — imagine that with alcohol sales, the violence that could be unleashed and the embarrassment that we would endure.”

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