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FIFA confident ahead of World Cup despite problems

Published on NewsOK Modified: June 5, 2014 at 8:16 pm •  Published: June 5, 2014
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SAO PAULO (AP) — FIFA is "not afraid" things will go wrong at the start of the World Cup despite preparation problems in Brazil.

Soccer's governing body said Thursday it's "in control" of what needs to be done to get the tournament off to a good start in a week.

"The general feeling is that we have done ... all we need in order to ensure that the World Cup will start on the 12th of June," secretary general Jerome Valcke said after a meeting of the local World Cup organizing committee.

The meeting took place the day Sao Paulo was thrown into transit chaos as subway and overland commuter train operators went on strike, putting at risk the only means that most soccer fans will have to reach the Itaquerao stadium which will host the opener between Brazil and Croatia on June 12.

"We are in control, we are not afraid of the next days," Valcke said, noting that he was confident local authorities would do everything possible to keep events such as strikes and protests from "impacting" the tournament.

Asked if the country was ready, Brazil Sports Minister Aldo Rebelo admitted there were some preparation problems and said it was impossible "to hang a diploma on the wall saying everything is ready."

"We know of our difficulties," he said. "We have done everything that was within our reach ... to give visitors a warm welcome."

After local organizers presented their latest report on the country's preparations, President Sepp Blatter said FIFA was "confident" the tournament will be successful.

Blatter and FIFA again refused to directly address the equally troubled 2022 World Cup in Qatar, which came into question after a report by the Sunday Times in Britain alleged that Mohammed Bin Hammam, who FIFA expelled in 2012, paid soccer officials millions of dollars to support the nation's successful campaign.

FIFA communications director Walter De Gregorio started Thursday's news conference by stressing that "we can't say anything about this" until FIFA prosecutor Michael Garcia wraps up his investigation.

"The only thing I can say to the Qataris is that ... we do not put the World Cup in Qatar into question," Blatter said. "We are waiting for the result of the investigation."

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