Rousseff, Blatter meet amid WC delays
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The presidents of Brazil and FIFA expressed their faith in organizing a successful World Cup, amid missed construction deadlines and warnings about dropping one host city.
''We are ready. We will be staging the cup of all cups,'' Brazil President Dilma Rousseff said through a translator at FIFA headquarters on Thursday.
Rousseff spoke at a joint news conference with FIFA President Sepp Blatter after their one-hour meeting. No questions were allowed.
She said her government was strongly committed to completing all the public works required, which she described as ''relatively simple'' to build.
Stadiums, city transport projects and airports have fallen behind schedule ahead of the June 12 kickoff. Among the delayed projects is the Sao Paulo, the site of the opener between Brazil and Croatia.
Blatter greeted Rousseff at the FIFA entrance and engaged her in a handshake. Their gesture follows years of public sparring between Brazil and FIFA over World Cup preparations.
''It is all a matter of confidence and mutual trust. Confidence prevails,'' Blatter said, promising a ''wonderful'' World Cup.
Rousseff visited FIFA before attending the World Economic Forum in Davos. She traveled after attending the opening of the stadium in Natal, just the seventh of 12 intended venues to be completed despite FIFA's December deadline. Rousseff on Wednesday had acknowledged problems with the stadium in Curitiba.
FIFA Secretary General Jerome Valcke this week warned that Curitiba was not assured of being a host city because of stadium delays. FIFA requested progress reports by Feb. 18. Former Brazil stars Cafu and Bebeto say failure to complete one of the 12 World Cup venues on time would be a blow to the nation.
Cafu on Thursday said it would be ''disaster'' if Curitiba has to be removed from the list. Bebeto said it would be ''terrible for all Brazilians'' if the southern city is excluded from football's showpiece event.
FIFA official Jerome Valcke says getting Curitiba ready will be a ''challenge,'' but says it would be an even bigger problem to relocate the four matches set for the city's Arena de Baixada.
Valcke visited Curitiba earlier in the week. He says FIFA will make another assessment on Feb. 18 and there would be ''hourly monitoring'' to assess stadium building.