RIO DE JANEIRO: Brazil’s Deputy Sports Minister Luis Fernandes is confident that the country will host a “fantastic” World Cup this summer despite admitting mistakes were made during preparations.
Fernandes said that the national federal government was excluded from part of the decision-making process between 2007, when Brazil was awarded hosting rights to the 2014 World Cup, and 2012.
During those years the president of both the local organising committee and the Brazilian football confederation was Ricardo Teixeira who later fled toMiami under pressure of scandal.
Fernandes thought preparations would have been much more effective if the government had been involved throughout.
Only after FIFA secretary-general Jerome Valcke told international media that Brazil needed a “kick up the backside” was Fernandes himself brought on board with executive responsibility.
Fernandes said: “It would have been better to have had government representatives on the board of the local organising committee of the World Cup from the very start.
“We were only included in that process a little more than two years ago and I think if we had been included from the very beginning the level of integration would have been greater and that would have been better.”
Fernandes also said that it should not have been assumed that the benefits of staging the World Cup were evident to all and lessons must be heeded ahead of the 2016 summer Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.
Preparations for the World Cup have drawn criticism from many with three of the 12 stadiums due to be used during the tournament yet to be completed.
In addition, much of the promised public transport infrastructure has either been delayed, abandoned or will not be finished in time for next month’s event.
Despite the criticism, Fernandes hit out at some foreign critics, suggesting they were prejudiced against developing nations.
“I wouldn’t say there’s a media campaign against Brazil,” Fernandes said. “I’d say there is in general a sector of society that is prejudiced against the capacity of developing countries to deliver this type of event. We can only respond to prejudice with achievement. We are confident that Brazil will surprise the world with a successful event.”
Fernandes also played down the prospect of more unrest in the country following a new wave of protests and strikes in recent weeks.
He said it was “natural” for workers to use the tournament to demand higher salaries and better working conditions, but warned that security forces will crack down on violence.
Contingency plans were in place in case of strikes or unrest that could affect matches.
Fernandes said: “While the World Cup gives people the platform to express their demands to a global audience, I feel that is only natural and understandable.
“What we will not tolerate, as we are a democratic state, are acts of violence or vandalism and there will be zero tolerance of that.
“We have to have a democratic policy guaranteeing the rights of people to have peaceful demonstrations for whoever has a demand to voice, but at the same time guarantee the conditions needed for the security of the event. And those will be guaranteed.”