Jerome Valcke: Brazil doing better
SAO PAULO -- Brazil is making progress in its preparations for the 2014 World Cup, FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke said Thursday at the end of a three-day visit.
Valcke visited the host cities of Recife, Natal and Brasilia and met with local organizers to get updates on progress for the World Cup and next year's Confederations Cup.
"Most of the projects are going well," Valcke said. "Everybody is working harder and we are becoming better prepared to host the Confederations Cup and the World Cup."
FIFA also announced that the World Cup draw will take place in the northeastern resort city of Costa do Sauipe in December 2013. The Confederations Cup draw will be in Sao Paulo this December.
Valcke noted improvements in the northeastern cities of Natal and Recife and praised the work being done in the capital Brasilia, which will host the Confederations Cup opener in 2013.
Valcke said Natal was an example of Brazil's progress. The city that will host four World Cup matches had been one of the slowest in its preparations so far.
"There's no time to lose, and the work really needs to be done fast. That said, I was very impressed with what's being done," he said. "The good thing about the project is that it's moving on. We had the red light before, but now we've got the right color again and the projects are on schedule. So there are no concerns on our part, though we will continue to monitor the situation."
Valcke said it was still too early to tell if the northeastern city of Recife will be able to host the Confederations Cup next year but was confident that it will be ready. He said he got guarantees from the local government that all the work will be completed in time for the World Cup warm up tournament.
Recife and Salvador will have until November to show FIFA that they will be in position to host the Confederations Cup.
The four cities already guaranteed to host the tournament are Brasilia, Rio de Janeiro, Fortaleza and Belo Horizonte. The final will be at Maracana in Rio.
Valcke praised the stadium being built in Brasilia for the competition's opener.
"It will be a worthy arena to represent the nation's capital," he said.
Valcke acknowledged that the World Cup law approved by the Brazilian congress and sanctioned by President Dilma Rousseff was not exactly what FIFA wanted because it left the governing body having to negotiate some of its needed guarantees with the local governments, but said that it "was not the end of the world."
Soccer's governing body also said it reached a deal with official broadcaster TV Globo to allow the World Cup matches to be shown on big screens across the country without the need for a licensing agreement as long as the exhibitions are for less than 5,000 people and in a non-commercial environment.
"It is nice to think that thousands of kids will experience the same feeling that I had when I was a kid during the celebrations that will take place at public viewing events across Brazil," said former Brazil striker Ronaldo, a member of the local organizing committee.
Brazil will be hosting the World Cup for the first time since 1950.
Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press