Brazil will complete all its planned infrastructure projects and stadium development programs on time to host soccer’s World Cup in 2014, the country’s Sports Minister Aldo Rebelo said today.
South America’s biggest nation was awarded the rights to sports most-watched event in 2007. Rising construction costs, delays, labor disputes and a disagreement with soccer’s governing body FIFA over legislation have slowed preparations.
“The World Cup is a majestic and a very important event,” Rebelo said in a conference call with foreign reporters. “But Brazil has done more important and more difficult things.”
He said the country is spending 30 billion reais ($15.9 billion) on projects linked to the monthlong tournament and has offered 400 million reais in funds to each group building or upgrading the 12 stadiums being used.
While the government has pledged growth of 4 percent to 4.5 percent this year and unemployment reached a record low of 5.2 percent in December, economists in the latest weekly central bank survey predicted expansion of 3.21 percent this year and 4.25 percent in 2013. Unemployment rose to 6.2 percent this month.
“We’ve already generated 300,000 jobs for the World Cup alone, and another 300,000 will be generated by the time of the World Cup,” Rebelo said.
South Africa, the host of the last tournament in 2010, faced similar criticism about the state of its preparations before completing all the promised stadiums for the World Cup.
“Criticism is something natural in a democracy,” Rebelo said. “Nobody can expect to do anything in a democracy without being subject to the filter of criticism. We welcome every criticism with a very open mind. We will fulfill our duties and commitments and we’ll hold a World Cup just like the U.S., Europe and Asia have done before. We trust it will be a big success for both Brazil and the world.”
In February, Brazil’s government made public a dispute with soccer’s governing body, demanding that FIFA’s General Secretary Jerome Valcke be removed from his role as an emissary to the competition’s organizers. Valcke said the country needed a “kick up the ass” to be ready and expressed frustration at Brazil’s delay in ratifying pledges it had made when it was awarded the competition.
Valcke and FIFA President Sepp Blatter apologized to settle the dispute, but earlier this month Brazil’s Senate refused to meet with Valcke.
“There might be different views and interpretations of the guarantees Brazil is providing to host the World Cup but we have discussed those differences and are looking forward to common understanding and good relations with FIFA,” Rebelo said.
A bill establishing procedures for the tourney in Brazil has since been passed by the lower house and requires Senate approval before becoming law. The delay in its application isn’t a “hindrance to the organization of the World Cup,” he said.
The minister said construction of most of the sites was on schedule and delays at other venues were limited to “one or two percent and they can be recovered within the timeline.”
“We built Brazil’s capital Brasilia in just four years, so there’ll be no delay with regards to constructing stadiums,” he said.