Thu, Jan 22, 2015 - Page 18 News List

FIFA announces US$100m fund for Brazil soccer

AP, RIO DE JANEIRO

Brazilian Football Confederation president and 2014 FIFA World Cup chairman Jose Maria Marin, right, speaks with confederation vice president Marco Polo del Nero during a press conference in Sao Paulo, Brazil, on Tuesday.

Photo: AFP

Soccer world governing body FIFA said on Tuesday it had set up a US$100 million World Cup Legacy Fund for Brazil, aimed at sports facilities, youth and women’s soccer, and medical and health projects.

FIFA president Sepp Blatter pledged two years ago to give back some of the income from last year’s World Cup to grassroots programs in the South American nation, which spent about US$15 billion organizing the tournament.

Spending on the Rio de Janeiro 2016 Olympics is expected to top US$15 billion.

FIFA secretary-general Jerome Valcke, speaking in Sao Paulo, Brazil, said the World Cup “inevitably has an impact on society and the environment in the host country.”

He said organizers had a “responsibility to limit the associated negative effects, while at the same time maximizing the huge positive impact it can have.”

It will take years to assess the impact of the World Cup in Brazil.

It is clear that Brazilian politicians underestimated the costs, stadiums were late getting ready and many related infrastructure project were canceled, or have yet to be completed.

On the field, matches were high-scoring and jam-packed, and a heavy police and military presence helped discourage the kind of protests that overshadowed the 2013 Confederations Cup.

Brazil were eliminated in a stunning 7-1 lost to Germany in the semi-finals.

FIFA, a not-for-profit organization based in Switzerland, generated more than US$4 billion in sales from the World Cup last year. The figure could reach US$5 billion for Russia’s 2018 World Cup.

An analysis earlier this month said Brazil spent about US$3 billion on new and refurbished stadiums, 90 percent of it being public money.

Former Brazilian president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva had promised all stadiums would be privately financed.

Brazilian government officials acknowledged that public holidays associated with the World Cup were partly to blame for the country falling into a technical recession late last year.

Four of the 12 stadiums used for the World Cup are almost certain to become white elephants. Some are faced with hosting weddings and children’s events to generate income. Several are expected to host a few events for the Rio Olympics.

Valcke acknowledged that “some of the stadiums are not used permanently.”

He said it would “take time to use all the stadiums at their maximum.”

He also responded to criticism of FIFA in the Brazilian media.

“Our commitment [is] to be in Brazil after the World Cup, not to leave, as some media said — I mean [comments like]: ‘FIFA is coming to Brazil taking the money out of Brazil and run away from Brazil right after the final.’ It is not true,” Valcke said.

“FIFA is committed to develop and support football wherever we organize our events,” Valcke added.

Despite Brazil’s prestige in the game, Jose Maria Marin, president of the Brazilian Football Federation, said some of the legacy money was targeted for the 15 states where the game is not as well funded.

“We took on a commitment with the states that did not host the event to make sure the benefits of the World Cup will reach places where, although the love of football is huge, the structure offered to the community still cannot be compared to that which we see in the bigger cities,” Marin said.

FIFA said the Brazilian federation was responsible for the projects — subject to FIFA approval.

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