BRASILIA: Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff has insisted that Brazil will have everything in place to host a World Cup to unite the country writes KEIR RADNEDGE.

Rousseff used her first public statements of the year to repond via Twitter to weekend criticism from FIFA president Sepp Blatter about delays in preparations for the finals in June and July.

She said: “Brazilians go into 2014 confident about hosting the cup of cups. In Brazil, the World Cup will be at home, because this is the country of football.

“Tourists will have chance to come to know this multicultural country whch is working hard to confront the challenges of ending poverty and creating opportunities for all.”

According to Rousseff, the record demand for match tickets demonstrated how enthused both Brazilians and foreigners were about the finals.

She said: “The demand for tickets to the games – the highest in the history of the World Cups – shows that fans around the world rely on Brazil. We love football which is why we are proud to host the Cup.”

Blatter, in a weekend interview with the Swiss 24 Heures, had said that never in all his 38 years in FIFA had a host country been as far off the preparatory pace at this stage as Brazil.

Sports Minister Aldo Rebelo, regularly caught out in his over-optimistic statements about the rate of progress, sought to offer FIFA reassurance over work on stadia and supporting infrastructure.

A statement from the Ministry said: “The information sent to the Ministry by the authorities responsible for preparing the host cities for the World Cup and approved by the minister who visits the works every three months, demonstrate that the country will be ready on time.”

Leading media commentator Juca Kfouri has come down in both support and opposition to Blatter’s views.

Kfouri said: “Sepp Blatter has every right to criticise the delay of works for the World Cup in Brazil but he has no moral authority because he accepted the original bid presented by Ricardo Teixeira.”

In 2007, when FIFA awarded the finals to Brazil, the country was the only South American candidate and the local confederation was led by Teixeira who has since quit football and fled Brazil in disgrace.

Kfouri assessed Blatter as correct in expecting a resumption of the street protests which marred last year’s Confederations Cup. But he accused Blatter of complacency over Brazilians’ attitudes to football, saying: “Blatter is is right to fear demonstrations during the World Cup but he is wrong to say that football is a religion for Brazilians.”