HONGKONG: Sepp Blatter has shrugged off a variety of World Cup protests to talk up the imminent finals in Brazil.
World federation president Blatter was in Hongkong to open the new headquarters of the local football association, accomplished with the support of FIFA development funding.
He said: “[Brazil] is my 10th World Cup and I can tell you I have never seen a World Cup that everything is ready . . . It will be a great tournament.”
Blatter’s comments came amid reports of a wave of murders last week in Salvador and further violence in Rio de Janeiro as police attempted to take control of the favelas ahead of the finals which open in Sao Paulo in June.
Blatter recalled similar security issues before the last World Cup in South Africa in 2010.
He said: “Security is the matter of the government and the state. FIFA can not ensure security. This is part of the commitment of the organising government, in this case the government of Brazil when they have received the World Cup.
“The same time, just four years ago, people were saying that nobody shall go to South Africa. We shall go with bullet-proof jackets because it’s no security.
“Please believe me, football, football is stronger than anybody else, anybody and any other movement in the world.”
Outside, a dozen protesters shouted slogans against alleged labour exploitation in both Qatar – which will host the 2022 finals – and in the manufacture of World Cup-related products in developing countries.