Former Brazilian striker and administrative member of the World Cup's local organizing committee Ronaldo (L) speaks next to FIFA general secretary Jerome Valcke (R) and Sports Minister Aldo Rebelo during a news conference about the on preparations for the 2014 World Cup, in Brasilia January 16, 2012. REUTERS
Brazilian Sports Minister Aldo Rebelo says the country will honour all its pledges to FIFA as hosts of the 2014 World Cup, but admits delays in preparations.
"What is going to happen is what is listed in the 11 pledges. We will not give FIFA more than we promised, and we will also not give it less, because that would be bad for the country," Rebelo told dpa and two Brazilian media in an interview in Rio de Janeiro.
Brazil was chosen in 2007 to host the 2014 World Cup. The most important pending issue is the approval by the Brazilian Congress of the so-called World Cup General Law, which gives football's world governing body FIFA and its sponsors financial guarantees.
FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke ended Thursday a four-day visit to Brazil in which he reaped government promises to fulfil host pledges fast.
Among crucial aspects of the World Cup Law, there is the disposition that would make Brazil financially responsible in the event of natural disasters or security problems during the tournament.
It would also allow the sale of beer in stadiums, which is currently banned in many Brazilian venues. Valcke made it clear that FIFA would stand by its sponsor, US brewery Budweiser.
The World Cup General Law should have been passed last year but it is yet to clear even the first hurdle in the legislature: the approval of the special commission on the issue in the lower house of the Brazilian Congress.
Still, Rebelo is confident that both houses of Congress will pass it by late March.
"The path is already clear, because the commission has committed to vote on it in February, and when the bill reaches the Senate the most difficult issues will have been resolved already. I think this is well under way," he said.
Rebelo, who took the job less than three months ago following the resignation of Orlando Silva over a corruption scandal, said the government would try to rush this year works on infrastructure including stadiums, public transportation and telecommunications to make up time that has slipped by.
"I will have to rush my visits to host cities. I have to look not just at the stadiums, but also at urban mobility works. We will be doing that somewhat late. We could have done it earlier, but it's better to do it now than later," he said.
Rebelo insisted that, despite the delays, Brazil will fulfil the requirements to host a World Cup, even as regards accommodation and airports.
"The hotel sector is already fearing an oversupply of accommodation. And airports, I reckon, will have in 2014 the capacity to transport 230 million passengers per year, while the flow will be 150 million passengers," he said.
The minister staunchly denied that there is a risk that FIFA might invoke clause 7.7 of the Host Agreement. The clause gives it the opportunity to designate until June 1, 2012 a new host for the 2014 World Cup without compensating Brazil, if FIFA should consider that the original host did not fulfil its pledges.
"I had even forgotten that clause. I do not believe that is a possibility. That is not going to happen," Rebelo said.
For now, Valcke appeared to agree: he described as "excellent" the results of his trip to Brazil, and stressed that there is no friction whatsoever between FIFA and Brazilian authorities.