Blatter: Brazil behind in World Cup readiness

Dilma Rousseff responds to FIFA head's criticism, insisting her country will be ready for this summer's tournament.

    Sepp Blatter, FIFA president, has criticised Brazil's readiness for the World Cup, saying the country was further behind in its preparations than any other host nation during his tenure.

    Blatter told Swiss newspaper 24 Heures on Monday that Brazil "is the furthest behind [of any host country] since I've been at FIFA and moreover, it's the only one that had so much time - seven years - to prepare itself".

    "Brazil has just realised what it means to organise a World Cup".

    His comments led to the following remark on Twitter from Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff, who wrote: "We love football and we will receive this Cup with pride and we will make it the Cup of Cups." 

    Blatter responded on Twitter: "I fully agree with @dilmabr (Rousseff) tweets today. The whole world, including me, is looking forward to the Cup of Cups. Brazil will be a great host."

    Aldo Rebelo, sports minister, said the country had been working hard to prepare for the tournament, which is scheduled to start on June 12.

    "The information arriving at the Ministry of Sports, information sent by the authorities in the host cities, and details gathered by the minister himself - who visits the sites every three months - shows that the country will be ready on time," he said.

    Brazil missed the December 31 deadline for the completion of six of its 12 World Cup stadiums.

    The country's preparations have faced delays because of a range of issues, including financial problems, worker safety issues and construction site accidents.

    Three construction workers died at stadiums late last year.

    Demonstrations also marred the Confederations Cup last summer with about one million people protesting across Brazil in a single day, complaining of higher bus fares, corruption and poor public services.

    Those protests then extended to the billions of dollars spent on the World Cup and 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

    Blatter said he believes there will be more protests, but does not think they will affect the World Cup.

    "So I'm not worried. But we know that there will be more demonstrations, more protests," he said.

    "But the football will be protected, I believe the Brazilians won't attack the football directly. Because for them, it's a religion.''

    "I'm an optimist, not someone who worries."

    SOURCE: Agencies


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