(WFI) Rio Mayor Eduardo Paes tells World Football INSIDER that the FIFA family “will not be treated as well as the IOC family” in Brazil because pushy officials are testing World Cup organisers and paving the way for a smoother delivery of Rio 2016.
He said Brazil was working better with the IOC than its leaders are with FIFA on 2014 World Cup issues, despite strong warnings over Olympic preparations.
“We have a great relationship with the IOC,” Paes told INSIDER, paying tribute to the advice and guidance of its coordination commission for Rio 2016 led by Morocco’s Nawal El Moutawakel.
“When they come out with advice it’s because it’s real and then we’ve got to do our job and we don’t complain. The way the IOC works makes our lives much, much easier. There’s a team watching for us, they take care of our planning. If they don’t agree with something they try to discuss and we get an opinion.
“It’s a much more, I would not say relaxing, but it’s an environment that makes you work better than sometimes what it is with FIFA. I think the federal level had lots of problems with FIFA.”
That was a reference to FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke’s infamous “kick in the arse” comment to Brazil a few months ago aimed at speeding up work for the World Cup, which led to Dilma Rousseff’s administration initially turning their back on him. Sepp Blatter has since set up a new committee including Brazilian ministers which has oversight on 2014 preparations.
Paes added: “If I was from FIFA I would say these guys are using me to get everything ready for these IOC guys.
“The FIFA family is not going to be treated as well as the IOC family because they are going to be testers [ahead of Rio 2016].”
Recent warnings from the IOC’s watchdog for Rio 2016 reveal the frustrations of the Olympic body at progress across the Games project, closely mirroring Valcke’s frustrations with 2014 World Cup organisers.
El Moutawakel delivered a hard-hitting review of Rio’s progress at the IOC Session in London three weeks ago. She called for Rio organizers to accelerate preparations and said “very vigorous coordination” was needed to ensure the Olympic project didn’t fall any further behind schedule.
Paes admitted that the 2016 Games organizing committee faces tight deadlines to deliver on its promises to the IOC – but insisted the city would not disappoint. “We’ve tight dates. It’s not easy with such a huge project that we’re going to be delivering in Rio. But the good thing is we are on time. It’s a great transformation… huge, huge things being done.”
El Moutawakel also raised
concerns that the impact of Brazil’s big effort to organize the 2014 World Cup might have a detrimental effect on the pace of work for the Rio Olympics.
Not so, said Paes.
With FIFA’s headquarters and the international broadcast and press centers all based in Rio as well as the renovations to the Maracana and airport due for completion in the next 18 months, he claimed the delivery of projects was helping not hindering Olympic preparations.
“Some of the things are going to be delivered by next year because of the Confederations Cup and by 2014 everything’s going to be ready,” he said.
“Again it’s huge for Rio as is the Olympic Games but I think we will learn a lot from the experience of the World Cup so there’s going to be a concrete legacy, things that will be built, and obviously there’s going to be lessons to always learn from what we did wrong and right.”
Paes acknowledged concerns locally and internationally about the impact of the World Cup and Olympics on the city’s public transit. But he claimed the system would cope well.
World Cup Boost to Rio’s Reputation
Paes believes Rio’s reputation will soar after its staging of the World Cup and 2016 Games.
“It’s going to be a completely changed city… a place that’s more equal, more integrated with so many investments in mobility,” he said. “People worldwide are going to see Rio differently.”
As for Rio’s crime-hit favelas, which are major concerns for FIFA and the IOC, he claimed the government crackdown and ongoing police work was rooting out the drug lords.
“Favelas are in much better shape. Since we won the Olympic bid, there were lots of other new favelas completely free from drug dealers,” he said, adding that before the World Cup “we’re going to have all the city pacified with no areas controlled by drug dealers. It’s a great thing.”
Brazil’s sports minister Aldo Rebelo told TIME Magazine, in an interview published on Monday, that preparations for the World Cup and Olympics were on track.
“Both urban and sports-related infrastructure works are on schedule,” he said. “We’ve planned this well ahead of time and funds were designated for these purposes. I’m confident that things will materialize in due course and in good time.”
With reporting from INSIDER’s Mark Bisson and Ed Hula
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