ZURICH/BRASILIA: FIFA president Sepp Blatter, after all, will go to Brazil, after all, to hasten along parliamentary approval of the World Cup Law. The trouble is finding a date and that, conversely, risks further delaying the process.
The latest obstacle erupted after the essential 2014-enabling legislation was approved by Congress and passed up to the Senate for second-house approval before President Dilma Rousseff can sign it into law.
However senators are threatening to prove as stubborn as the congressmen, using the galloping proximity of the 2013 Confederations Cup and the World Cup itself for their own internal political bargaining purposes.
Hence a demand to discuss contentious issues, such as stadia alcohol sales, with Blatter and not FIFA secretary-general Jerome Valcke. The refusal to meet Valcke was a reaction to his impatient “kick up the backside” comment last month about the state of 2014 preparations.
Alcohol is not allowed inside Brazilian stadiums, but FIFA demands a change because Budweiser is a World Cup sponsor. FIFA said Brazil agreed to change its law when it accepted hosting the tournament in 2007.
Normally Blatter would be averse to dancing to the politicians’ tune but time pressure makes a flight to Brasilia irresistible for him.
Last week FIFA said Blatter was not planning a trip to Brazil any time soon. This week it has turned around to concede that he will seek to attend a public hearing with members of the three commissions studying the text of the Bill but without offering feasible dates.
Trouble is, senators will not consider the Bill until after the hearings so the ‘delay’ ball is now back in Blatter’s court.
Brazil’s Sports Minister Aldo Rebelo has accepted apologies from Blatter and Valcke over the colloquial nature of the Frenchman’s remark and urged the commissions “to move on so we can stay on schedule.”
Rebelo, addressing the Education, Culture and Sport Commission on Monday, sought to minimize concern over delays in infrastructure work, saying there was no danger of Brazil not being able to host the finals.
He added: “There are many delays and they are regrettable but it will be possible to make up time without major problems in one stadium or another. Everything else is on time. There is no risk to the staging of the finals through delays. We will certainly be hosting the World Cup.”
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