Brazil to show FIFA that World Cup prep on track
SAO PAULO (AP) -Brazilian officials are heading to Switzerland to show FIFA that preparations for the 2014 World Cup are on track.
The meeting on Tuesday at FIFA's headquarters will mark the first encounter between Brazil Sports Minister Aldo Rebelo and FIFA Secretary General Jerome Valcke, whose remarks about Brazil's readiness earlier this year ignited a feud between the two parties.
Rebelo said the meeting will be important to put the differences behind and get everyone focused on organizing a successful World Cup.
"You can't have a World Cup if the host country and the organizers don't get along. We are in the process of overcoming (what happened) and re-establishing the cooperation that we feel is important,'' Rebelo told Brazilian media in London.
"We received an invitation from the president of FIFA (Sepp Blatter) and we will make a presentation to try to ease FIFA's concerns in relation to the measures that the government is taking to guarantee that we don't miss any deadlines regarding the stadiums and the infrastructure work.''
Rebelo said the government will show FIFA there aren't any significant problems affecting the country's readiness to host the competition.
"The first stadiums will be delivered in December 2012 and the others in December 2013,'' Rebelo told Brazilian channel SporTV. "By 2014, we will also have the work completed in the airports so we can receive all the visitors and host the World Cup.''
Blatter is expected to officially open the meeting in Zurich. Deputy secretary general Markus Kattner and members of varied FIFA departments were also expected to participate. The local World Cup organizing committee will be represented by President Jose Maria Marin and management board members Ronaldo and Bebeto.
"The working session will encompass the latest status of preparations, as well as the agenda for the next 24 months,'' FIFA said in a statement.
One of the issues likely to be discussed is whether the northeastern cities of Recife and Salvador will be included in the Confederations Cup next year, along with Rio de Janeiro, Belo Horizonte, Fortaleza and Brasilia. FIFA inspectors visited the two cities recently and the FIFA said it will make a decision by June. The biggest concern was with slow preparations in Recife.
Although the Brazilian government has been saying there are no significant delays in stadium construction and infrastructure work ahead of the World Cup, some local watchdog groups have exposed concerns with the pace of preparations.
Valcke made FIFA's concerns public in March, but his harsh words angered Brazil and forced Rebelo to say the government was cutting ties with the secretary general as FIFA's representative to discuss the World Cup.
Valcke had to apologize, as did Blatter, who also had to make a trip to Brazil to talk to President Dilma Rousseff to ease the tension between both parties.
Blatter later said Valcke would remain the FIFA official in charge of the World Cup preparations in Brazil, but some congressmen hinted the government would rather negotiate with someone else, even though it accepted the apologies. The Brazilian senate rejected receiving Valcke to talk at a commission discussing a controversial World Cup law, saying that it would only accept Blatter's visit.
Rebelo eventually said it was up to FIFA to choose its representative to work with Brazil, then accepted taking part in Tuesday's meeting knowing that Valcke would be participating.
"We are moving forward,'' Rebelo said.
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