Brazil’s sports minister pledges ‘great’ World Cup
Amid corruption scandals and delays, Brazil’s new sports
minister promises a ”great World Cup” in 2014.
Aldo Rebelo gave his upbeat prediction Monday days after it was
reported that Ricardo Teixeira is preparing to resign as president
of the 2014 World Cup organizing committee.
Teixeira is a member of FIFA’s executive committee. He is linked
to an investigation of kickbacks at ISL, the marketing agency that
owned World Cup television rights until its 2001 bankruptcy with
estimated debts of $300 million.
Rebelo was appointed in October to replace Orlando Silva, who
resigned after being embroiled in his own corruption scandal.
Rebelo spoke at the opening ceremony of Soccerex in Rio de
Janeiro, a global trade show for the soccer industry.
”It is not only the world of football that is going through
tough times because of claims of corruption, problems with racism,
intolerance,” Rebelo told hundreds of delegates at the convention.
”These facts are undesirable. These are things that are happening
in the whole world.”
The minister’s comments touched on problems surrounding Sepp
Blatter, the embattled president of FIFA, who has been under
growing pressure to reform the governing body following a series of
FIFA has promised to publish Swiss court papers in December
identifying senior officials who took payment from ISL. British
broadcaster BBC has identified the officials as Teixeira and his
former father-in-law Joao Havelange, the longtime FIFA president
who Blatter succeeded in 1998.
Speaking after his address, Rebelo was asked about the tension
between FIFA and Teixeira. He hinted new blood might be needed.
”This is nothing new, this has always been my opinion,” he
said. ”The renewal and rotating system in any institution is
always a good thing for sport and democracy.”
Rebelo also addressed organizational problems in building
infrastructure such as airports and stadiums and getting World Cup
venues ready on time.
FIFA officials have repeatedly said the preparations are behind
schedule. FIFA Secretary General Jerome Valcke told Brazilian
lawmakers this month the pace had to be stepped up, saying ”we are
late, we can’t lose a day.”
”Rest assured that Brazil will have a great World Cup in
2014,” Rebelo said. ”We are also going to have a good World Cup
in terms of organization. The federal government, the state
governments and the municipal governments of the 12 host cities are
fully engaged in organizing this event to meet all the expectations
of the world, of our country, of the athletes, the tourists and the
organizers and promoters.”
”From Tibet to Patagonia,” he added, ”humankind expects
Brazil to have a good World Cup.”
Tony Martin, chairman of Soccerex, also defended Brazil.
”Those that have misgivings about the hotels, transport
facilities, stadiums not meeting five-star criteria are wrong,” he
said. ”This marvelous country has a way of doing things in its own
relaxed manner, but invariably will deliver on time.”
Thierry Weil, FIFA’s marketing director, said the scandals were
having little effect on FIFA’s major sponsors and partners. He
described sponsorship deals for the 2018 and 2022 World Cup package
as ”going extremely well.”
Weil compared FIFA to a family with some problems.
”You see that a lot of people are saying wrong things.
Somethings are maybe right,” Weil said. ”We are on the way to
Follow Stephen Wade at twitter.com/StephenWadeAP