FIFA President Sepp Blatter criticized Brazil’s preparations for this year’s soccer World Cup after four stadiums missed the construction deadline set by the sport’s global governing body.
Blatter, 77, told Switzerland’s 24 Hours that Brazil didn’t start preparations early enough for the quadrennial competition.
“It is the latest country since I’ve been at FIFA, even though it is the only one which had so long -- seven years -- to prepare,” Blatter said.
FIFA wanted all 12 venues for soccer’s most-watched event to be completed by Dec. 31. An accident in November killed two workers at Sao Paulo’s Itaquera stadium, which is scheduled to host the June 12 opening game between Brazil and Croatia. That facility is now scheduled for an April completion, while sites in Cuiaba and Curitiba are set to be ready next month. Manaus’s stadium, where a worker also died, is expected to be completed this month.
Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff said today that her nation is confident it will host the “Cup of Cups.”
“Everyone who comes to Brazil will be well received,” Rousseff said via the Twitter social-networking website. “The tourists will have the opportunity to meet a multicultural and hard-working country, a Brazil that is facing the challenge of ending poverty and generating opportunity to everyone.”
Latin America’s largest economy is spending about 8 billion reais ($3.4 billion) on building the stadiums for the month-long tournament. Since June, protests marred the run-up to the event as demonstrators argued that the public funds would be better spent on education and health services.
Blatter said that even though such protests may continue, he doesn’t expect the tournament to be affected.
“I think the Brazilians won’t directly attack football,” he said. “It’s the sport’s home. It’s a religion.”
To contact the reporter on this story: Ben Priechenfried in London at firstname.lastname@example.org
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Christopher Elser at email@example.com