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