— Only now – a critical 25 months away from the 2014 World Cup finals – FIFA, the Brazilian government and the local organising committee say they have finally got their act together.

As FIFA secretary-general Jerome Valcke observed, in an aside: “Better late than never.”

For all the positive spin applied by FIFA president Sepp Blatter, Valcke and Brazilian Sports Minister Aldo Rebelo, Brazil’s effective preparations thus far appear to have veered between non-existent and disastrous.

Zurich line-up: Luis Fernandes, Jérôme Valcke, Joseph S. Blatter, Aldo Rebelo, José Maria Marin, Marco Polo Del Nero, Bebeto and Ronaldo / FIFA / Foto-Net

This is remarkable, considering that the finals were awarded to Brazil back in 2007. A joint press conference could not hide admissions that, in effect, South Africa was much further ahead at this stage in its much-queried preparations for 2010.

Rebelo, for example, admitted in effect that some of the confirmed host cities do not have the necessary airport and hotel capacity. The Brazilians are studying the use of military airports to help move fans but even this “depends on the views of the Ministry of Defence.”

Apparently Rebelo flew to Zurich – via London – not having checked what the Ministry thinks.

The summit had been billed in advance as an opportunity for Brazil to show FIFA that World Cup preparations were on track. Clearly, they showed FIFA exactly the opposite. FIFA president Sepp Blatter, after a number of diplomatically polite remarks, could not help himself in noting – as he wound up the press conference – that the World Cup Law had still to be approved by Brazil’s Senate.

Blatter had opened with various statements of good news. He promised: “No more dissent . . . everything has been solved . . . this is a show of solidarity, for the entire world . . . because the World Cup is the pillar of FIFA.”

He also drifted into a philosophical distraction based on Nelson Mandela’s comments ahead of 2010 about “celebrating humanity through football.”

A spotlight on what had not been done shone through Rebelo’s comments about the little that had been achieved.

He rambled: “We had a very constructive and successful meeting. The decisions taken will help overcome any barriers or challenges . . . We ended our meeting with FIFA convinced we will hold a successful World Cup in harmony.”

Hence it was left to Valcke, FIFA’s World Cup progress-chaser, to set out the issues “which needed solutions.” These include hotel capacity, airports, security and transport in the air and in general. At least it was progress that government representatives had now been added to the local organising authority.

This representative is federal government executive Luis Fernandes who felt that his arrival meant “we can increase the integration of all our efforts to guarantee a successful World Cup in Brazil.”

That it has taken the government this long to get a representative on the local authorising authority illustrates the breadth of the problem caused by President Dilma Rousseff’s distaste for now-departed football supremo  Ricardo Teixeira.

Rebelo refused to look back and review what had not been done and why it had not been done. He said: “I prefer to look ahead.”

In effect Tuesday, May 8, 2012, may prove to have been the day Brazil started preparing in earnest for the 2014 World Cup

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