Blatter steps in to ease Valcke dispute
Brazil’s government stated at the weekend that it will cut its ties with Valcke over comments he made about the country’s preparations for the 2014 World Cup. Valcke is set to visit Brazil later this month and issued a stark warning to World Cup organisers on Friday, stating that “not a lot is moving” and adding that organisers needed a “kick up the backside”. Valcke’s comments were met with a stern rebuke from Brazil’s Sports Minister Aldo Rebelo and Blatter has now sought to ease the tension a day after Valcke issued his own apology.
In a letter to Rebelo, the FIFA president expressed his “deepest regret” for the present situation. He continued: “I am gravely concerned about the deterioration in the relationship between FIFA and the Brazilian government, a relationship that has always been characterised by mutual respect. In the meantime, you have also received a letter from the FIFA secretary general Jérôme Valcke and I have no further comment on this matter other than to say that both as FIFA president and personally, I would like to apologise to all those – above all the Brazilian government and President Dilma Rousseff – who feel that their honour and pride has been injured.” Blatter, who is currently engaged on a tour of Asia, added that he hopes to meet with Rousseff next week. Rebelo has stressed Brazil’s commitment to foster “cooperation and harmony with FIFA in preparations for the Cup ” in a conciliatory statement issued following Blatter’s letter.
The dispute has served to overshadow the start of a FIFA inspection visit to six of the 12 host cities for the World Cup. Sao Paulo was the delegation’s first stop on Tuesday before it moves on to Porto Alegre, Curitiba, Cuiaba, Manaus and Natal. The 65,000-seat Corinthians stadium fell under the spotlight, with a senior FIFA official stating there is no doubt that the venue for the tournament’s opening game will be ready on time. Construction on the venue began in May after a year’s delay and should be finished at the end of 2013. “We don’t have any doubt that the opening of the World Cup will take place in the Corinthians stadium,” said FIFA general manager, Fulvio Danilas, according to AFP.