Brazil comes to town – Zurich, that is – this week in the latest round of diplomatic dancing between FIFA and Brazil’s World Cup organizers. What is intriguing is that the Brazilians are racking up the air miles yet again.
Coming over for a meeting on Tuesday at the world federation headquarters are Brazil’s Minister of Sports Aldo Rebelo, his executive secretary Luis Fernandes, office chief Luís Paulino plus FIFA’s new Brazilian exco member Marco Polo Del Nero and new Brazilian confederation president Jose Maria Marin plus his orgaising authority board colleagues Ronaldo and Bebeto.
That is a line-up which represents the various senior strands of the 2014 organising authorities.
FIFA president Sepp Blatter will open the meeting and then it will be down to secretary-general Jerome Valcke, his deputy Markus Kattner plus the various competition, communication public affairs and legal department heads to get down to the nitty-gritty [Blatter has his hands full preparing for a delicate FIFA Congress in Budapest later this month].
Until earlier this year it was always FIFA bosses jetting off to Brazil. Then came Valcke’s “kick-up-the-backside” episode plus the long-awaited departure of Ricardo Teixeira. Now it almost appears as if FIFA has decided that the Brazilians can sink or swim: they know what they have to do, they know what have not done and they will be judged by world sports opinion by the outcome as early as next year during the Confederations Cup.
This is problem for the Brazilians. It’s been widely reported that work is way behind in terms of upgrading key infrastructural projects such as stadia and airports. Rebelo has insisted that FIFA’s perception of delays is merely a ‘European attitude’ and that everything will be fine on the night(s).
Blatter and Valcke – FIFA’s head progress-chaser – are nothing like as confident and point to the continued failure of the Brazilian government to approve the World Cup Law which underpins the entire operation in legal and financial terms.
Congress approved the Bill, albeit with some confusion still over the stadia/alcohol issue, and now it has become bogged down in the political maze of the Senate, the upper chamber. Once more politicians are making their vote dependent on government and parliamentary concessions over their own personal/local projects.
Uncertainty continues to reign over which stadia will be ready to host the Confederations Cup. The Brazilians had suggested that Maracana could host the final. Now it is being hinted that Maracana will be nowhere near ready and that the Joao Havelange Stadium will be put to use instead.
In the meantime Rebelo is investigating a deal with the British authorities to import London 2012 knowhow to beef up the available organizational expertise for both the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.
One current conspiracy theory is that FIFA will not be too disappointed if the Confederations Cup proves an organizational and logistical disaster from the host’s point of view.
The Brazilians would then have no option but to hand virtually full control to Blatter and Co to bring the World Cup show up to speed.
Hence FIFA sitting back in Zurich and letting Rebelo and Co do all the running.