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FIFA, Brazil on same page again for 2014 World Cup

Associated Press Modified: May 8, 2012 at 2:16 pm •  Published: May 8, 2012
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ZURICH (AP) — Peace is at hand for Brazilian soccer officials and FIFA.

Both sides say they have overcome their differences and will cooperate fully to ensure the 2014 World Cup is a success.

The nearly six-hour meeting Tuesday was the first between Brazil Sports Minister Aldo Rebelo and Jerome Valcke since the FIFA secretary general's remarks about the country's slow pace of preparations earlier this year ignited a feud between the two parties.

FIFA announced after the joint summit that a member of the Brazilian government will join the local World Cup organizing committee, allowing it to be more closely connected to the decisions needed for the country's preparations. Soccer's governing body also said organizers will try to meet every six weeks in Brazil to make sure the preparations stay on track.

"There is no more dissent, no more problems, everything has been solved," FIFA President Sepp Blatter said through a translator following the meeting in Zurich. "We are not speaking about personal problems anymore. That is solved and over."

The meeting happened about two months after the Brazilian government said it was cutting ties with Valcke because of his harsh comments, eventually prompting both Valcke and Blatter to formally apologize.

"This summit represented a strong signal from the Brazilian government that it is fully committed to our partnership and shared responsibility to stage the most successful FIFA World Cup ever," Blatter said. "We have today laid the foundations for achieving our joint goal in an atmosphere of mutual cooperation and trust."

Rebelo praised the opportunity to put the spat in the past and focus only on the challenges of preparing Brazil for the World Cup.

"We had a very constructive and victorious meeting," he said. "The decisions taken and the discussions we had showed that there is a complete agreement between FIFA, the Brazilian government and the local organizing committee. This will help us overcome any barriers or challenges of hosting the World Cup, which will live up to the expectations of Brazil and the world.

"We ended the meeting with FIFA today convinced that our ties have been strengthened, that trust exists and that together we can overcome all challenges."

Valcke said the meeting allowed for a "frank discussion" with all those involved.

"It has been a meeting which essentially allowed each of us to understand where the difficulty lies," the secretary general said. "Reports were made, questions were asked."

Valcke said Brazil sports ministry's executive secretary Luis Fernandes was made a permanent government representative in the local organizing committee. Also joining was FIFA's Brazilian Executive Committee member Marco Polo Del Nero.

The goal is to have the committee meet every six weeks, or no longer than two months, for a status report. This will "allow us to pinpoint the problems and find solutions. We are 13 months away from the Confederations Cup and 25 months from the World Cup. We have to make sure that fans and everybody will find a perfect setting" in Brazil, Valcke said.

He said the local organizing committee in South Africa also had members of the government involved and the results were positive.

Jose Maria Marin, the president of the local committee in Brazil, said the meeting was an example of "loyal," ''frank" and "constructive dialogue."

"From now on there is total integration of those responsible for organizing the World Cup. We will work together," Marin said. "This is very important because this will bring peace of mind to all of those responsible for organizing the World Cup in 2014 and it will bring peace of mind to the Brazilian fans."

Rebelo reiterated that there are no significant delays in stadium construction, even though some local watchdog groups have exposed problems with the pace of preparations.

Rebelo admitted, however, that the committee is looking into using military airports to help the country meet the increased demand for passengers during the World Cup. Inadequate airport infrastructure is one of the greatest challenges local authorities are facing. Rebelo said the option will only be presented to FIFA after the country's defense ministry approves it.

There was no indication whether discussions were held about the northeastern cities of Recife and Salvador participating in the Confederations Cup next year. FIFA inspectors visited the two cities recently and a decision is expected by June.


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