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Brazil’s World Cup Team Bigger Worry Than Venues, Minister Says

Brazil’s World Cup Team Bigger Worry Than Venues, Minister Says
Glen Johnson of England jumps for a header with Fred of Brazil during the International Friendly match between England and Brazil at Wembley Stadium in London on Feb. 6, 201. Photographer: Christopher Lee/The FA via Getty Images

The performance of Brazil’s national soccer team is more of a worry for the 2014 World Cup’s organizers than the readiness of the 12 stadiums hosting the event, Sports Minister Aldo Rebelo said today.

Brazil’s team lost 2-1 against England this month in its first friendly match under coach Luiz Felipe Scolari, known as Felipao, who took over in November 2012 to help boost the team with a history of five World Cup victories, the most of any nation. Brazil’s last victory was in 2002.

“Regarding the stadiums, I supervise and control them, I talk to the builders,” Rebelo said in an interview in Brasilia. “Regarding the team, I can only root for Felipao and the players. It’s the only project where the government has no influence.”

The general secretary of soccer’s organizing body, FIFA, said last year that Brazil’s World Cup organizers needed a “kick up the ass” in their preparations. Following initial construction delays, all the stadiums are now set to be inaugurated on time for the World Cup’s start in June next year, Rebelo said. The construction companies are experienced and using the most advanced technology, he said.

“That gives us a certain calm,” he said.

While Brazil’s national team is at a disadvantage because, as the host of the event, it does not participate in qualifying games and only plays friendlies, the country still boasts the best players in the world, Rebelo said.

“We now have the challenge to forge the team for 2014,” Rebelo said. “I think Felipao will coordinate a competitive team.”

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