Saturday, June 25, 2011

Jérôme Valcke attacks Brazil's 'slow' preparations for 2014 World Cup

Redevelopment work continuing this month at the Maracanã stadium in Rio de Janeiro. Photograph: Vanderlei Almeida/AFP/Getty Images

Brazil's slow pace of preparation for the 2014 World Cup has been criticised by the controversial Fifa general secretary Jérôme Valcke.
Valcke, making his first public appearance since Fifa exonerated him of wrongdoing for saying Qatar had "bought" the 2022 World Cup hosting rights, said Brazil were well behind schedule on stadium and transport projects.
He told the Inside World Football Forum in Moscow: "There is a lot of work to deliver. We don't have stadiums, we don't have airports, we don't have a national transportation system in place and we are one month away from the preliminary draw.
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"The Maracanã is definitely not currently a World Cup stadium and that's why it's closed. It will be ready at the last minute, a few months maybe, even a few weeks before the tournament if they don't speed up the process. In São Paulo they will not even be able to play the Confederations Cup in 2013 because the stadium will not be ready."
Valcke suggested the main aim in Brazil was to win the World Cup rather than organise a successful tournament.
"In South Africa the main goal was to show the world that Africa could organise a World Cup. In Brazil, in a way the main issue is to win it. Otherwise they will talk about failure."
He refused, though, to comment on the corruption scandals that have engulfed Fifa. "I'm here to talk about football. Sometimes at Fifa we need this," he said.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Rio de Janeiro police clear decks for 2014 World Cup


Hundreds of Brazilian police and soldiers backed by helicopters and armoured vehicles swept in to take over a crime-ridden Rio slum yesterday as part of a pacification plan ahead of the football World Cup in 2014.
More than 100 marines, 160 elite police officers and 600 ordinary officers took part in the operation in the hillside Mangueira neighbourhood, which went off without a shot being fired, a police spokesman said.
Mangueira is near Rio's famed Maracana football stadium.
The pre-announced operation began just after dawn with 14 armoured personnel carriers thundering up the slum's steep roads and helicopters clattering overhead, as security forces on foot followed with arms at the ready.
Ninety minutes later, two of the vehicles reached the highest point of the slum and officers hoisted the Brazilian flag atop a water tank. The forces met no resistance. Drug gangs that had been controlling the district had fled well in advance.
"We were woken at six in the morning by the helicopters. Everything was already calm before that. It would have been better if they spent the money on improving the hospitals," said one resident, a kitchen employee and mother of five who gave her first name as Bete.
Her seven-year-old nephew Donatan said he was afraid: "When I heard the noise, my legs started shaking. The house was shaking, too. I thought the police were going to start shooting."
Most residents refused to comment for fear of reprisals in case the drug gangs returned. The few who did refused to give their last name.
"All of that is because of the World Cup. But afterwards, who will make sure it doesn't go back to like before, that the police won't leave?" asked Vera, 54.
Vinicius, 15, feared what the slum would be like under police control. "It's finished, going out at night. We'll have to stay at home."
Some residents said they were worried more about the police than the gang members, who reigned but also provided security. There were also concerns that gunfights might break out between police and drug traffickers.
The operation was the final link in a "security perimeter" authorities have set up around the Maracana stadium, which will play host to the World Cup final, to be watched by more than 700 million television viewers around the world.
It will also be a venue for sports featuring in the 2016 Olympic Games, which Rio will also host.
Unlike in previous years, when the police raided the neighbourhoods only to exit soon after, leaving a vacuum quickly filled by returning gangs, they are setting up local posts in the slums to maintain control.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Fifa admits infrastructure problems hampering Brazil 2014 World Cup preparations


Airports, accommodation and transportation are on Fifa's agenda for World Cup 2014 as Valcke admits to issues regarding progress with modernisation.

Fifa secretary general Jerome Valcke admits there are problems with the infrastructure surrounding preparations for World Cup 2014 in Brazil.

Valcke, who was speaking at the Fifa congress in Zurich where Sepp Blatter is running unopposed in the presidential elections, has previously criticised preparations for the slow pace which has hampered progress.

Yet, despite claiming Fifa is working hard to ensure everything is on course, Valcke, who is responsible for overseeing the tournament is delivered on time, admits there are problems.

"We have the full support of the new president of the country [Dilma Rousseff] which gives us confidence in the many problems we have to face which are airports, accommodation and transportation," Valcke said.

"We are working very well with the organising committee and Ricardo Teixeira."

Stadiums have also been hit by delays, but Valcke insists developments are in sight.

"We have been able to finalise with most of the cities about their stadiums," he concluded.