Valcke asks Brazil to adopt law needed for WCup
FIFA Secretary General Jerome Valcke urged Brazilian lawmakers on Tuesday to quickly approve a law establishing the legal framework needed for the 2014 World Cup.
Valcke says the country cannot afford to lose more time in its preparations for the monthlong tournament which will begin in less than three years.
''We are late, we can't lose a single day,'' Valcke told lawmakers on Tuesday at a congressional committee discussing the proposed law. ''We need to start working together now or we won't start at all.''
The new law would regulate commercial rights, alcohol sales and advertising rules for the tournament and deliver the final commitments Brazil's federal government made to FIFA in its bid to host the World Cup and the 2013 Confederations Cup.
Many lawmakers are hesitant, however, saying the law gives FIFA too many powers.
''Our goal is not to fight against FIFA, we just want to show to FIFA that it's not above Brazilian sovereignty,'' congressman and former Brazil striker Romario said.
One of the concerns regarding the new law involves the sales of cheaper tickets to students and the elderly, something that Brazilian legislators have promised would be offered.
Valcke said he is not fond of the differentiated prices, but hinted that it would be possible to create a new ticket category that could benefit students, the elderly and other Brazilians.
He said FIFA may make $25 tickets available to people older than 60 for all matches except the opener in Sao Paulo and the final at Maracana stadium.
Valcke warned that a ticket for a World Cup match is worth a lot of money in the black market and that it's important to keep it from getting into the wrong hands.
Another controversial issue is an existing Brazilian law that forbids the sale of alcohol inside stadiums during football matches, which would go against some of FIFA's sponsors.
FIFA has said it will sharply defend the commercial rights of all its sponsors - among them being brewer Anheuser-Busch InBev, the maker of Budweiser, which has extended its sponsorship of the World Cup through the 2018 edition in Russia and the 2022 event in Qatar.
Valcke defended the ''controlled'' sale of beers at World Cup matches and dismissed concerns that the availability of alcohol would lead to fan violence, a problem often seen in Brazilian stadiums.
''Controlled sale means, for example, that the beer will be sold in plastic cups instead of bottles or cans, which could be used as weapons,'' Valcke said in Brasilia, the nation's capital.
The proposed bill that was sent to Congress does not mention alcoholic beverages, but states that it would give FIFA and its sponsors the right to sell and promote their brands and products in areas where matches are played.
Lower house president Marco Maia hinted the government may make some concessions in the sale of alcohol in stadiums if FIFA agrees to a compromise in the negotiation of ticket prices for students and the elderly.
Ricardo Teixeira, president of the local organizing committee and of the Brazilian football federation, also spoke to the congressional committee and asked legislators to hurry up in the approval of the proposed law.
''We live in a democracy, it's healthy to have this debate, but time is not on our side anymore,'' Teixeira said. ''Brazil made commitments to FIFA and now it's time to deliver an unforgettable World Cup.''
Maia said the new law is expected to be voted on by the end of the year. It would then have to be approved by the senate before it is signed by President Dilma Rousseff.
Brazil will host the World Cup for the first time since 1950. The country also will host the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.
Associated Press writer Marco Sibaja in Brasilia, Brazil, contributed to this report.
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