Blatter criticises Brazil preparations
FIFA president Sepp Blatter has hit out at Brazil’s failings in delivering the 2014 World Cup, saying that no previous host country has “been so far behind in its preparations.”
Six of the nation’s 12 host stadiums failed to meet FIFA’s Dec. 31 deadline, while work on hotels, airports and roads have also been affected by delays.
And when asked if Brazil realised the scale of work involved, the FIFA chief told Swiss newspaper 24 Heures: “No. Brazil has just found out what it means and has started work much too late.
“No country has been so far behind in its preparations since I have been at FIFA even though it is the only host nation which has had so much time -- seven years -- in which to prepare.”
Blatter, who admitted in December that there is “no plan B”, pointed out that Brazil have had seven years to prepare since being awarded the tournament, as previous hosts have only had six years or less.
Three of their stadiums are not likely to be finished until April, including the Itaquera Arena in Sao Paulo, which will host the opening match between Brazil and Croatia on June 12.
The Brazilian government said it would be completed in February, only for FIFA to confirm another deadline of April 15.
Last summer’s Confederations Cup, also held in Brazil, was dominated by protests, and Blatter feels the World Cup could feature more of the same.
“I am an optimist not a pessimist. So I am not worried,” he said. “But we do know there will again be manifestations, protests. Those during the Confederations Cup -- in this same country -- were generated out of the social networks.
“There was no specific goal but during the World Cup the protests will perhaps be more concrete, more organised. But I also believe the football will be safe, I do not believe that Brazilians will attack the football directly. For them, it's a religion.”
Blatter also dropped another hint that he may change his mind and stand again for the FIFA presidency in 2015.
He said: “I cannot answer with a yes or a no but simply state that I do not feel tired enough to say that I will not stand.”
Information from the Press Association was used in this report