Sat, Jan 25, 2014 - Page 18 News List

Blatter, Rousseff brush off World Cup problems

‘CUP OF CUPS’?Dilma Rousseff is breezy and FIFA’s Sepp Blatter says ‘confidence reigns,’ but earlier he had said no country had lagged behind as much as Brazil

Reuters and AFP, ZURICH

FIFA president Sepp Blatter, right, welcomes Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff on Thursday at FIFA heaquarters in Zurich, Switzerland.

Photo: AFP

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff brushed off concerns about their troubled World Cup preparations after meeting FIFA’s Sepp Blatter on Thursday, reiterating that her country would stage the “Cup of Cups.”

Blatter, president of world soccer’s governing body, also dismissed worries over Brazil’s problems, saying all that was needed were “a few touch ups.”

Their meeting at FIFA headquarters came two days after officials in Curitiba, one of the 12 World Cup venues, were given until Feb. 18 to prove that they can get their stadium ready or risk exclusion from the tournament.

The Arena da Baixada was supposed to be ready last month, but, like five other grounds, it is behind schedule.

Airports and public transportation are also a huge problem as Brazil prepares to host the tournament for the first time since 1950.

Blatter and Rousseff both read statements in which they discussed initiatives to combat racism, promote peace and strengthen women’s soccer in Brazil.

These included, according to Blatter, the release of a bird of peace before the opening ceremony.

However, the pair largely avoided going into detail on the issues regarding World Cup preparations.

“We are prepared,” Rousseff said after an hour-long meeting.

“We are going to put on the Cup of Cups, and we are going to do so in the country of football,” she said.

“Stadiums are relatively simple things to build,” she added. “We are sparing no effort into building stadiums, airports and ports to enable Brazil to welcome visitors with open arms.”

Blatter said he was also unruffled.

“Brazil is the country of football and there is no better country than Brazil when talking about football,” he said.

“So Brazil is going to organize a very beautiful World Cup, a great World Cup, and confidence reigns,” Blatter added.

“And now, there are a few months to go, and there will have to be a few touch ups, but this is normal for a World Cup. I am used to World Cups,” he said.

“There is no problem,” Blatter added. “At the end of the day, everything will be in order, everywhere in Brazil.”

Blatter said earlier this month that he could not remember any country having fallen so far behind in their preparations as Brazil.

After Rousseff tweeted that Brazil would stage “the Cup of Cups,” Blatter backtracked and predicted a successful tournament.

World Cup opponents said they have scheduled protest demonstrations in 36 cities for today.

Under the slogan: “There won’t be a Cup,” the Rio Anonymous group called for the protests on its Facebook page on Thursday, calling it “the first action this year to say no to the World Cup.”

Organizers are railing against police violence, inadequate social services and the billions of dollars being spent on staging the event, which is to be held in 12 host cities between June 12 and July 13.

“The goal of the protests is to fight for the interests of the people and of any person who wants a country with more justice and less inequality,” they said.

“FIFA go home” and “There won’t be a Cup,” the group added in an appeal also carried on Twitter.

Today’s demonstrations would take place across Brazil, including in Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo, Salvador, Porto Alegre, Curitiba and Brasilia, organizers said.

This story has been viewed 1062 times.
TOP top