ZURICH: Jerome Valcke, FIFA’s secretary-general, was impressed by the energy and enthusiasm on view during his first visit of the year to 2014 host nation Brazil.
However, his summary was notable more for what it did not say: i.e. nothing about hopes of ending the stalemate over ticket prices, alcohol sales regulations and commercial piracy controls.
Valcke, FIFA’s World Cup progress-chaser who intends visiting different venues in Brazil every two months, said: “We managed for the first time to get a true feeling of what is happening at the venues and no longer have to rely only on evaluation reports.
“All the negative media reports over the last few months nearly had me doubting whether the Brazilians really want to host the FIFA World Cup – something even impossible to imagine, I know, because there is for certain only one thing every football fan dreams about experiencing: the Brazilian way of putting on a FIFA World Cup.”
Valcke said he, new organising delegate Ronaldo and Sports Minister Aldo Rebelo, had been “overwhelmed by the warm welcome and reception from the Brazilian people, the host city and state authorities, along with the beautiful scenery, and diversity of this beautiful country.”
Enthusiastically, he added: “The passion for football and the huge anticipation for the FIFA World Cup could be felt at every corner – it was great to see this and experience it. It was the best motivation for us to recharge our organisational batteries, seeing the people’s strong belief and efforts to ensure that 2014 will be an unforgettable football festa à Brasileira.”
Construction workers, said Valcke, are being encouraged with a promise of free match tickets to “work round the clock to make sure they deliver the stadiums on time . . . just as we did for South Africa 2010.”
As for the contentious World Cup Law, Valcke said: “We – FIFA, the LOC and the government – still have a lot of work ahead, but with the commitment and willingness expressed by the Minister of Sports, the special Commission and the House of Representative I am optimistic that we will close this chapter with the 2014 Bill in March 2012.”
Vaklcke made no reference to details concerning the negotiations and no comment about the sudden reappearance at a midweek meeting of under-pressure Brazilian football supremo Ricardo Teixeira.