New sports minister pledges ‘great’ World Cup
Brazil’s new sports minister Aldo Rebelo pledged Monday that the
South American country will put on a ”great World Cup.”
Addressing corruption scandals and delays surrounding the 2014
World Cup, Rebelo spoke just days after Brazilian media reported
that Ricardo Teixeira, the president of the 2014 World Cup
organizing committee, is preparing to resign.
Teixeira, a member of FIFA’s executive committee, is being
linked to an investigation of kickbacks at ISL, the marketing
agency that owned World Cup television rights until its 2001
bankruptcy with debts of around $300 million.
Rebelo was named 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 football 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 football’s world 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 named the officials as Teixeira and his former
father-in-law Joao Havelange, the longtime FIFA president who
Blatter succeeded in 1998.
Speaking on the sidelines 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. Earlier this month FIFA Secretary General Jerome Valcke
told Brazilian lawmakers that the pace of work 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.”
Follow Stephen Wade at twitter.com/StephenWadeAP