Brazil counters bad press: “we can be ready to organize the World Cup in two months”
Brazil, plagued by delays and in-fighting in its preparations for the 2014 World Cup, could stage the event in two months' time if necessary, the country's sports minister said on Friday.
Aldo Rebelo said work at all but one of Brazil's 12 venues was now on schedule and promised that other infrastructure, including airports, could handle the expected number of visitors.
He also defended cut-price tickets for low income families and Brazil's native Indians, an issue which has divided the Brazilian government and soccer's governing body FIFA.
People might think that I'm exaggerating, but my impression is that if Brazil had to organise the World Cup in two months' time, we would be ready, Rebelo told the programme Good morning, Minister on the government-run NBR channel.
We can do everything which is planned for the World Cup, added Rebelo, appointed in October to replace Orlando Silva who quit over corruption allegations.
Rebelo said the only stadium which had fallen behind schedule was the Beira-Rio in Porto Alegre, where work has been paralysed for nearly six months. This has followed a disagreement between Internacional, the club which own the stadium, and construction companies due to carry out the refurbishment work.
Rebelo played down media reports of disagreements between FIFA, which wants full control over ticket prices, and Brazil's Congress, which wants price reductions for certain sections of the population.
FIFA has told Brazil to pass a law implementing its conditions, drawing opposition from Congress where some politicians have seen the demand as an affront to the country's sovereignty.
We are all making a common effort but it's natural to have differences in any given activity, said Rebelo.
The minister said that Brazil was used to staging big events and that airports could cope, even if they were handling more than their planned capacity.
The carnival in Rio de Janeiro mobilises more people in a week than we will have at the World Cup, he said. Salvador and Recife also have a much bigger presence for their carnivals.