ZURICH: Jerome Valcke has countered protesters’ claims on the streets of Brazil that the World Cup is too expensive for the country.
Valcke, secretary-general of FIFA, is the world federation’s overseer of progress – or lack of it – towards the finals which start in one month’s time.
In an interview conducted for FIFA’s own website, he insisted that legacy value could not be judged either now or later this summer.
He said: “You cannot talk about the legacy at or right after the World Cup. You need few years to see what the legacy is. There are legacies at different levels.
“The first level is the football infrastructure. They will have a level of stadiums and training camps which are amazing. They have better facilities to play football than before. The stadiums that were used at the Confederations Cup welcome more fans, because the structure is nicer and have a higher standard of international football.
“Then you have the different cities. Those cities will have changed from the times when they received the organisation of the World Cup, to the time when they will have the games played in the city. There is a different level or urban mobility, accommodation and road network.
“In South Africa, the lives of the people in some of the cities have changed because those cities have invested a lot of money to change their infrastructure.”
Valcke said criticism of FIFA was simplistic and unfounded because “the target is wrong.” He pointed out that any country which bid to host the World Cup did so out of a belief in the event’s domestic value.
Work remained to be completed at some stadia which was crucial because the finals would start with a series of major clashes such as Brazil v Croatia for the Opener then Spain v Holland the next day in Salvador in a repeat of the 2010 Final followed by England v Italy in Manaus.
Valcke added: “[Here] you have games where 100pc of the stadium is used, a high level of hospitality and high level of media interest, so we can’t fail in these first five days. The pressure is there to make sure we will be perfectly ready.”
Valcke said “a few” tickets remained unsold “but [the supply] is very limited. The demand is amazing. I don’t think that we’ve ever had so may requests for tickets. For the opening game in Sao Paulo, hospitality has announced 14,000 guests. The level of interest from the world and Brazil is huge.”
He insisted that fans from abroad could expect “a great tournament [in] an amazing country.”