The World Cup is only three months away, but FIFA is still defending itself against accusations that it stands to profit from this summer's tournament.
Jerome Valcke, FIFA’S World Cup overseer, has insisted that the world federation is only investing money in Brazil and not taking any out.
The FIFA secretary-general, in a ‘house’ video interview, defended the organisation’s role against the anger of the protesters who came out during last year’s Confederations Cup and are expected to hit the streets again during the finals in June and July.
The demonstrations, whose intensity shocked both FIFA and the Brazilian government, were sparked by perceptions of an imbalance between spending on World Cup projects by comparison with expenditure on social welfare.
Valcke said: “FIFA is not using any public money or money from Brazil except from our Brazilian commercial partners to activate their brands on the World Cup.
“What FIFA injects in the country is $800m and the cost of the World Cup to FIFA itself is $1.3bn because on top of that sum we have prize money for the teams and additional costs.
“But FIFA is not asking for any financial support from the Brazilian authorities and whatever is spent by the cities and by the government will remain within the country.
“It is in the infrastructure [and other] things which will be used by the country and will not be taken way by FIFA when we fly away from Brazil on the 14th of July after the final.”
Valcke said that his focus was “on making sure that behind us the structure of football will have changed not only at the highest level – with the new stadia and training pitches – but all these programmes where the values of football are used to educate, to change the lives of the kids, to bring them off the streets and give them the chance to have another life.”
However he conceded that FIFA and the local Brazilian authorities faced a race against time in completing preparatory work to even minimum standards.
Three stadia have yet to be delivered which is a concern because this hampers FIFA’s work to build the ‘temporary cities’ which surround the main venues.
Valcke used Porto Alegre as an example, saying: “We cannot put in place all the TV compounds, the hospitality compounds – all these different zones – without any ‘pavement’.
“We are talking about 140,000 sqare meters and this takes two to three months and we are just three months from the World Cup and it’s not only a race for FIFA but for the local government and the stadia and the cities to be ready to welcome the world.”
The imperative for the Brazilians, according to Valcke, was to be ready “to welcome the world” because he saw the World Cup as “a first magnet” for the expansion of tourist industry which most critics at home and and abroad acknowledge is under-developed.
Valcke concluded: “I’m looking firstly to deliver the World Cup . . . to make sure the 32 teams will say at the end that it was the greatest World Cup and everything was perfect as regards the training, the games they played and as regards the organisation.
“I’m looking to make sure that the hundreds of thousands of people who come to Brazil will have the best of times . . . that even if there are demonstrations in the street the World Cup will be organised and the people who have bought tickets will be able to go the stadia and enjoy the games.”