FLORIANOPOLIS, Brazil (AP) — FIFA will continue to push local officials to organize fanfests during the World Cup and could pursue legal action against the host cities that back down from their commitment.
When the northeastern city of Recife said last week it would not spend public money to host a fanfest, which allows fans without tickets to watch matches for free on large screens in public areas, FIFA marketing director Thierry Weil was surprised.
On the sidelines of a workshop with representatives of all 32 World Cup nations this week, Weil said he remains hopeful Recife will reconsider and is willing to sit down with officials to try to find a solution, but adds that if the event is cancelled for good, FIFA will consider suing for breach of contract.
"If you have a contract in place with a party and the party is not respecting this contract, there is legal action you could take against them," Weil said. "Have we looked at what kind of potential legal action we could take? We have not. Only once we clearly know it has not happened we will decide what to do. I strongly believe we will have the fanfest in the 12 host cities."
The fanfests are only the latest concern for FIFA as Brazil struggles to get ready for the World Cup with less than four months until the opener on June 12. Delays in stadium construction and disputes over who will pay for temporary facilities required by FIFA are among some of the problems.
FIFA pays for part of the fanfests, including the large screens. Although it said it was willing to try to reduce some of its requirements, FIFA made clear it will not take over the costs that belong to the local government.
"If Recife wants, we will sit and analyze again and we can help them," Weil said. "FIFA will not go to Recife and negotiate with them. There is nothing to negotiate. We will help them. I hope they will still come back and provide the fanfest to their citizens. If not, there is a contract in place."
After Brazil selected the host cities, they all signed agreements promising to host fanfests. Weil said all of the Brazilian cities which wanted to be part of the World Cup after the bid was won in 2007, including those that eventually were cut from the final list, put a lot of emphasis on the fanfest and made it a crucial part of their bid.
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