BRASILIA: FIFA learned both good and bad news from Brazil as government and football officials there pondered president Sepp Blatter’s comment it might not have been the best choice as 2014 World Cup host writes KEIR RADNEDGE.*
Blatter made his comments while in Austria and southern Germany for a two-day sport and business conference organised by Franz Beckenbauer.
They followed the street protests which erupted before and during last month’s Confederations Cup and are likely to be repeated during the World Cup finals next year.
Brazil’s Sports Ministry reacted with a comment that “the success of the Confederations Cup proves Brazil is the correct choice to host the World Cup . . . Brazil is is a democratic country that guarantees its citizens full freedom of expression.”
That freedom of expression was maintained yesterday by protests outside the home of Rio Governor Sergio Cabral whose initial comments over the protests were widely judged as unnecessarily misguided and provocative.
One of the issues which had galvanised protesters concerned the costs of preparations for the World Cup. Congress has decided to set up an inquiry into cost overruns and allegations of corruption. Opposition Senator Alvaro Dias said: “No doubt there will be major revelations.”
Critics have suggested the Mane Garrincha National Stadium in Brasilia will cost more than $535.33m or double the original estimate.
Sports Minister Aldo Rebelo has always insisted that the stadia were built with the support of loans from either private industry or from the national development bank.
Many sceptics fear that, ultimately, those loans will have to be converted into grants. Not only that but the stadium in Brasilia and another in Manaus in the Amazon are likely white elephants with no obvious major purpose beyond the end of the World Cup.
One slice of good news, however: the Tourism Ministry said visiting fans and other tourists during the Confederations Cup spent more than expected despite the disruptive street protests.
The largest visiting fan group came from Mexico (30,9pc) followed by Americans (13.7pc), Uruguayans (9.2pc), Spaniards (7.4pc) and Japanese (7pc).
Although Blatter had questioned Brazil’s suitability as choice of host it was, in fact, the only country to bid for 2014. FIFA’s former ‘rotation’ system had pre-awarded 2014 to South America and no other country presented a rival bid.