President Dilma Rousseff said yesterday that Brazil will successfully host the 2014 FIFA World Cup, despite construction delays at numerous stadiums.
“We love soccer, and that’s why we’ll host this Cup with pride and make it the Cup of Cups,”Rousseff said via Twitter, just days after the Swiss newspaper 24 Heures published an interview with FIFA President Sepp Blatter in which Blatter claimed that the South American nation failed to begin preparations for the mega-tournament early enough.
“[Brazil] is the country which is the furthest behind since I’ve been at FIFA, and moreover, it’s the only one that had so much time—seven years—to prepare itself,” Blatter said in the interview.
Four of the 12 stadiums have missed the December 31 construction deadline set by FIFA. Financial problems, worker safety issues and construction-site accidents—including three worker deaths last year—have exacerbated delays. FIFA has since extended the construction deadline to April 15, only weeks before the competition kicks off on June 12 in São Paulo.
In addition to the complications with the stadiums, observers are concerned that Brazil’s hotels, airports, roads, and other infrastructure are not prepared to host a tournament of this scale.
Blatter also expects more protests—similar to those that occurred during the Confederations Cup last summer—but said he not believe they will affect the games because for Brazilians, soccer is “religion.” In anticipation of more protests, Jerome Valcke, the top FIFA official in charge of the World Cup, said that the tournament would have “the highest level of security you can imagine.”