Rio Violence Not a Threat

A funeral was held on Thursday for the dancer whose death touched off violence in Rio. (Getty Images)

FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke downplayed recent violence in the favelas of Rio de Janeiro as a threat to the upcoming World Cup.

The city was the scene of violent outbursts last week when a dancer was found dead with his friends and family blaming the killing on the police.

“It is a tragic episode which causes sadness, but it is not sufficient to say the Cup is at risk,” said Valcke, according to AFP. “I have received several messages asking me if there is a civil war in Brazil, and I have replied no.”

Rio’s Maracana is scheduled to host seven matches during the World Cup, including the final on July 13.

At the end of his four-day inspection and an LOC board meeting, Valcke told a news conference in Rio on Friday: “I feel happy we are close to the World Cup – and finally we will be talking about football.”

After delay-hit preparations over seven years, Valcke said Brazil would deliver when it came to the World Cup opener between Brazil and Croatia on June 12.

Sao Paulo has been one of the most problematic stadiums, due to financial problems early on in the project, delays which led to threats to strip the opener from the city and the tragic deaths of three workers on the construction project.

He said the 68,000-seat Arena Corinthians would “have all what we asked to organise the World Cup”.

Ricardo Trade, CEO of local organising committee, said Sao Paulo would host a Brazilian league match as a test event on May 18.

Brazilian sports minister Aldo Rebelo provided the government perspective on the final World Cup preparations.

“We’re at the stage where everybody – national and state governments, city councils and the LOC – has to pull together to overcome the last remaining obstacles,” Rebelo said.

“There is still work to be done in some stadiums and a number of construction projects to be finished. But with hard work everything will be in place for the opening Game at the Arena de Sao Paulo and for the competition as a whole. We are fulfilling the task that we were set, which is to organise the unforgettable festival of football that the whole world is expecting.”

Cuiaba Test Event

On Sunday, a Brazilian second division match between Luverdense and Vasco da Gama served as a test event for the Arena Pantanal in Cuiaba on Saturday.

Watched by a crowd of 17,808, the match allowed the Brazil 2014 LOC to partly validate operations in the following eight areas: cleaning and waste management, transport, spectator services, volunteers, catering, technology, competitions and safety and security.

Speaking afterwards, organising committee stadium operations manager Tiago Paes expressed his satisfaction with the tests. “We are pleased with how things went in each area and with operations at the Arena Pantanal overall,” he was quoted on FIFA.com

“We are also aware, though, that we need to improve. The fact of the matter is that not everything worked perfectly, though it should be said that we didn’t expect everything to go 100 per cent to plan because this is only the arena’s second game and the first LOC test event here. We know we need to improve and we’ll be doing that step by step.”

World Cup Cities Must Host Fanfests

Thousands gathered at fanfest sites like this one in Durban during the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. (Getty Images)

Valcke also says that each of the 12 World Cup cities must organise their own fanfests.

The comments come in the wake of comments out of Recife, a city in northeastern Brazil, that indicate there is still uncertainty over whether a fanfest will be staged there due to unwillingness to invest public funds and a lack of sponsorship.

“The cities who have not yet committed to have their own fanfest, it’s a mistake, and they have to do it. There is no choice,” Valcke told the AP.

Valcke said the fanfests are a requirement from FIFA, which has said though it will not finance them entirely, it is willing to help reduce costs.

“It’s not something we are asking for. It has to be done. And I hope that the cities who are not yet on the way to finalize their fanfest, they are just listening to what I’m saying.”


Written by Nick Devlin and Mark Bisson


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