By Ségolène Poirier, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – The new Brazilian Sports Minister Aldo Rebelo minimized on Thursday, March 22nd, the impact of the delays in the organization of the 2014 World Cup. Rebelo was named Sports Minister in November 2011 following the resignation of Orlando Silva under corruption allegations, and assured the press that the “kickoff would be on time.”
“The only thing that does not suffer from delays in Brazil [is] football matches. The kickoff will happen at the correct time,” Mr. Rebelo said in an interview on television and national radio.
Brazil was sharply criticized recently by FIFA concerning the delay in construction of stadiums, airports and hotels.
Aldo Rebelo compared the preparation of this competition with the Carnival parade preparations. “Anyone who follows the parade with a samba school thinks they will not succeed, and yet, each year they succeed and Carnival is a landmark event,” he said.
Concerning the proposed Lei Geral da Copa (Law of the Cup) the bill which crystallizes several tensions with FIFA, Mr. Rebelo said with confidence that the Parliament will vote in March or April.
Perhaps the most controversial item is the legalization of the sale of alcohol in stadiums, which is integral in FIFA World Cups but currently banned in Brazil. When chosen to host the 2014 World Cup, Brazil had been warned of FIFA’s demand about allowing controlled consumption of beer in stadiums.
FIFA wants this law to be voted in order to meet the contract with one of their largest partners, Budweiser, global beer giant, which recently became Belgian-Brazilian, and banning the sale of beer would effect the financial equation of the World Cup.
However the FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke main grievance in March is that everything appears to be behind schedule. Valcke’s biggest concern is the lack of infrastructure to receive the expected amount of visitors from around the world.
Another major shake-up in the 2014 World Cup organization is the resignation of Ricardo Teixeira, on Monday, March 12th, from the Brazilian Football Confederation (CBF) chair. Teixeira headed the CBF for over twenty years and resigned for health reasons, but also under the shroud of many corruption allegations.
José Maria Marin was appointed new Chairman of the LOC, the Local Organizing Committee of the World Cup 2014 in Brazil, and placed at the head of the CBF. After the appointment was announced, Marin told Sports Illustrated “[Teixeira's] administration was a model to be followed,” Marin said. “Brazilian football is respected around the world because of his work.”
The current plan is for Marin’s term to end in 2014 after the World Cup, and he told the press he was “open to dialogue” with the federal government to make sure the country’s preparations stay on track.