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"The World Cup in Brazil is Already a Success", Says Blatter

02/14/2014 - 08h50

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MARCEL RIZZO
FROM SÃO PAULO

FIFA President Joseph Blatter, in an exclusive interview via email, said that the World Cup in Brazil is already a success, citing the over 9 million requests for tickets made so far.

He also stated that he believes the likely protests during the World Cup should not affect the safety of the competition and used the expression "FIFA standard", a message carried by demonstrators to the streets to demand hospitals and schools, among other issues, is the sole recognition of excellence of the organization.

"I'm not sure that there was negative criticism related to FIFA. I believe that I showed that the public knows that we are always striving for the best," he asserted.

He also stated that his relationship with the Brazilian government is good and that he believes in the assessments made by authorities and companies involved in the construction of stadiums that whatever, including the Arena da Baixada in Curitiba (the most delayed stadium), will be ready on time for the World Cup.

Folha - How do you assess FIFA's relationship with the Brazilian government? Were you upset with President Dilma Rousseff's absence at the final of the Confederations Cup?

Joseph Blatter - Our relationship with the Brazilian government is very good and we recently had a very constructive meeting with President Dilma Rousseff here in Zurich [at FIFA headquarters]. I whole-heartedly agree when she says that the whole world is looking forward to the World Cup. Brazil is the country of football. I am convinced that Brazil will be a great host.

There is a fear that the stadium in São Paulo is not in ideal conditions for playing home to the opening game of the World? Taking into account that the temporary structures will be ready?

The Corinthians Arena is delayed because of an accident that unfortunately caused the death of two workers. That was very sad, but I'm sure that Corinthians [the club owning the stadium] and [the city of] São Paulo are doing everything to speed up construction and deliver the stadium in mid-April. It's tight, it'll be ready just two months before the World Cup and they also have to organize events test, but I have confidence when government authorities and stadiums tell me that everything will be ready on time.

Does FIFA fear for the safety of its employees and tourists about possible protests that will take place during the World Cup?

FIFA has full confidence in the local authorities, and the Confederations Cup showed that the concept of safety works. They didn't have any major incidents [that affected the competition]. Fans and teams had a great time, and the stadiums possessed an amazing atmosphere.

Does FIFA have any plans to become more amicable to the Brazilian public and prevent further criticism during the World Cup?

The question isn't clear to me. You mean avoid criticism against FIFA? Are you referring to the "FIFA standard" we saw Brazilians mention on the streets? I'm not sure that was a negative criticism of FIFA. I believe it showed that the public knows that we are always searching for the best. And the best response we can expect from the public came in the form of ticket orders. In the first phase of sales, which received more than 6 million orders, and now in the second phase of sales, more than 2.5 million [closing at 3.5 million requests]. Mostly requests by Brazilian fans. In total, we have about 3 million tickets for all FIFA World Cup games. This huge interest is beyond what we expected and we can only thank the Brazilian people.

What worries FIFA more: stadium construction delays or delays in infrastructure projects in cities?

But there are no worries. The Minister of Sport, Aldo Rebelo, ensured that the stadium in Curitiba would be ready on time. I already mentioned that ticket requests have been breaking records. It will be a great World Cup.

Is FIFA concerned that the only Brazilian laboratory has lost accreditation by the anti-doping agency for the World Cup? Do you think that there may be problems in collecting data from players?

Just as the WADA (World Anti-Doping Agency) confirmed that the Ladetec lab would not be able to achieve re-certification in time for the World Cup, FIFA had no choice but to deal with the analysis of samples abroad in Lausanne [Switzerland]. We do not expect any problems in data collection or analysis.

Who's the favorite team to win the 2014 World Cup?

I am not a prophet...

In a recent issue of FIFA magazine, you state that the referees have to be rigorous in giving out cards to players who flop. Does Neymar need to be penalized by the referees?

I can not speak about a flop that has not yet happened yet. I only said was that reckless plays and flops could not be tolerated and that those who adhere to this kind of behavior that goes against fair play should be punished.

Who is the best player in the world today: Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo?

As you know, the media, coaches and captains of the national teams chose Cristiano Ronaldo this year. My favorite player is still Alfredo Di Stéfano.

Translated by STEVE HUGHES

Read the article in the original language

Ruslan Shamukov - 27.jan.2014/Xinhua
FIFA President Joseph Blatter said that the World Cup in Brazil is already a success
FIFA President Joseph Blatter said that the World Cup in Brazil is already a success

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