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FIFA: It’s Brazil  Or Bust

Rio De Janeiro — With anti-government protests worrying Brazil, world soccer’s governing body and the national government sought yesterday to highlight the benefits of the World Cup investment, while stressing that the civil unrest during the test event posed no threat to the 2014 tournament going ahead.

More than a million Brazilians have taken to the streets during the Confederations Cup to protest about the lack of spending in public services compared with the billions of dollars being spent on the World Cup project.

Tear gas and rubber bullets have been fired at some demonstrators, leading to increased security around venues and suggestions that investment in Brazil is being wrongly diverted to fund a soccer tournament.

“We are definitely not under (siege), there is security,” FIFA General Secretary Jerome Valcke said.

The government is projecting that $13.3 billion will be spent on stadiums, airport renovations and other projects for the World Cup, with an estimated $3.5 billion on the 12 venues.

At a briefing, Valcke and government officials outlined how the whole of Brazil will benefit from the fact infrastructure is being upgraded to host 32 teams and thousands of fans next June.

“I think there’s a need to express all the good jobs we are doing,” Valcke said. “We are doing plenty of good things. And again, it’s never enough, but I am not ashamed about what we are doing.

“We are doing well and we are doing a lot of good things.”

While protests have posed the greatest challenge to Confederations Cup organizers, anticipated problems with the six stadiums being used for the eight-team tournament have not materialized.

And FIFA is saying publicly that there is no prospect of Brazil being stripped of the hosting rights.

“There is no Plan B and, by the way, I have never received any official offer from any other countries around the world to stage the World Cup in 2014,” Valcke said.

The government believes Brazil has proved the critics wrong.

“The country has been able to overcome the challenge of providing the infrastructure, logistics and conditions for the matches to be held in the stadia in accordance with the requirements of this cup, in terms of comfort and security,” Sports Minister Aldo Rebelo said.

“And, I believe, everything will operate well for us to reach the final on Sunday with the conditions right for the country to offer to the world the idea that, in 2014, Brazil will be able to hold the World Cup based on the expectations of our country and the world.”