Blatter satisfied with World Cup preparations
FIFA president Joseph Blatter said Wednesday he was satisfied with preparations for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
His optimism during a tour of Central America came just two weeks after he said that Brazil was ''not progressing very quickly'' and that the South Americans were lagging behind where South Africa stood four years ago as it prepared for the 2010 World Cup.
Blatter is making his trip to Central America less than two months before he faces a June 1 election challenge from Mohamed bin Hammam of Qatar for the FIFA presidency.
''We don't have any problem because we have received positive reports from all sides - especially in construction,'' Blatter told reporters. He said construction was progressing well ''not just for stadiums but for airports and hotels in different regions.''
Officials in Rio de Janeiro announced a week ago they were hiring 3,500 extra workers to make sure renovations at Rio's famous Maracana stadium are completed in time for the 2013 Confederations Cup. The Confederations Cup is seen as a test run for the World Cup.
Blatter also said delivering security at the World Cup was the responsibility of Brazil organizers.
''The security problem is a problem for the (Brazilian) authorities,'' he said ''FIFA has no role in security.''
Blatter said FIFA would beef up coaching and training assistance to Central America and said the body planned to help fund the construction of more football fields in El Salvador.
Salvadorian authorities named a building for Blatter on Wednesday in the capital.
Blatter was to travel Wednesday to Belize followed by stops in Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Panama. Central America is a member of CONCACAF, the regional federation which also includes North America and the Caribbean. The region has 38 of the 208 votes in FIFA.