KEIR RADNEDGE in Budapest: Senior FIFA directors have fired a gentle diplomatic warning at Brazil over its delay-scarred preparations for the organisation of the 2014 World Cup.
The world federation has grown increasingly concerned over the lack of progress in developing the national infrastructure, in particular airports and stadia. Emblematic of this frustarting and damaging crawl had been the problems over the parliamentary approval of the World Cup Law – only now about to be signed into law by state President Dilma Rousseff.
FIFA’s frustration was evidenced earlier this year with the outburst by secretary-general Jerome Valcke, the chief World Cup progress-chaser, that the Brazilians needed a “kick up the backside.”
That provoked a war of words which did achieve its aim in finally galvanising the Brazilian government, better late than never, to come to the table. Thus Sports Ministry director Luis Fernandes attended a World Cup summit last month in Zurich as a new representative of the Rousseff’s administration on the local World Cup organising committee.
Valcke told FIFA Congress today in Budapest: “We have a new structure with a new president of the Brazilian confederation and of the organisational structure and a partnership – which is much stronger since a few weeks ago – with the government to ensure that all the commitments given to FIFA and we will be able to organise a great tournament in 2014.”
But those positive words were followed up by guarded warnings from FIFA president Sepp Blatter and finance committee president Julio Grondona about the crucial role played by the World Cup in maintaining the world federation’s financial stability.
In effect, they told Brazil that the country, its politicians and sports leaders would find themselves held directly responsible by the entire world game if they fell down on their original promises to organise a World Cup which would be successul on both organisational and commercial levels.
Blatter said: “Our finances depend on the world cup. This is what finances our development programmes. That why we must be very careful with the country and organisations to which we have given the rights to organise the World Cup.”
Grondona added: “The next World Cup have to be prepared meticulouly from the point of view of finance . . . World Cup success for FIFA depends on the commercial success of the World Cup but above that also depends on the impeccable organisation of this tournament of tournament.”
Franco Carraro, Italian president of FIFA’s audit committee, echoed the cautions of both Blatter and Grondona by referring to the “utmost importance” of the World Cup to the organisation’s financial health.
The annual accounts were positive for 2011 with revenue of $1,070m and expenses of $1,034m, resulting in a surplus of $36m.
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