ZURICH: FIFA president Sepp Blatter believes that the 2014 World Cup will be “a great success” whatever the pessimists fear about construction delays and street protests writes KEIR RADNEDGE.
Blatter marked 100 days to the finals in Brazil in June and July by insisting that all the problems would be resolved in time for the Opening Match in Sao Paulo between the hosts and Croatia.
He said: “It’s a long way to go and it’s a short way to go if there are still problems but now all problems are under control and it will be in 100 days an exceptionally good start for an exceptional competition – and Brazil they will receive this competition with open arms and fullness of heart.”
Blatter, who is expected to confirm on the eve of the finals a will to remain as leader of the world football federation, added: “If football has been organised by the British – and especially the English – I have to say that the country where the skill of football has been inaugurated is Brazil.
“It is the Brazilian spirit of the game and the Brazilian ability to play football makes this World Cup very special.
“[This is] also because when the last World Cup in Brazil was organised in 1950 Brazil lost the final in Maracan against Uruguay so now everybody is expecting in Brazil that Brazil will bring home this World Cup.
“That’s why there is such a big expectation and, I’m sure, it will be a great success.”
In an oblique reference to the widespread street protests which marred the Confederations Cup last June, Blatter said: “The Brazilian fans will support their team from the very beginning and they hope Brazil will be in until the end – but there are 31 teams who want to [prevent] Brazil from being in the final so it will be a very high level competition . . . with a spirit of fairplay, discipline and respect.”
Concern will remain throughout the final three preparatory months after the completion of stadia, airports, IT networks and public transportation systems.
Four of the 12 venues are still not ready and at least two will not be completed until at least April.
State President Dilma Rousseff hs insisted this would be “the World Cup to end all World Cups” though some of the work already undertaken is giving cause for concern.
A section of roofing at the Mineirao stadium in Belo Horizonte fell off at the weekend. No one was hurt in the incident.
Brazil was awarded the finals in 2007 but initial lethargy prompted late decision-making. Hence one airport will welcome passengers in canvas tents because new terminals are not ready and most host cities will stage public holidays on matchdays in a bid to ease traffic congestion.
However of the 1.5m tickets sold, more than half have been snapped up by Brazilians, a record at this stage.