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

scandals.

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

change it.”

Follow Stephen Wade at twitter.com/StephenWadeAP