Brazil senate cancels meet with Valcke
A panel of the Brazilian Senate on Tuesday canceled a planned meeting with Fifa secretary general Jerome Valcke, who last month caused an uproar with his outspoken criticism of the country's 2014 World Cup preparations.
Valcke was supposed to have been received by the Senate's education, culture and sports commission but "the meeting was canceled," the panel's secretary, Julio Linares, told AFP.
"The panel will send a letter to Fifa asking that the meeting takes place with Fifa President Sepp Blatter, as was planned and not with Valcke," he added.
"We do not accept the Fifa's caretaker. What was approved was a meeting with Blatter, not with his aide. If it was up to me, he would get a kick in his backside," the panel's chairman, Roberto Requiao, was quoted as saying by Globo's G1 news website.
Valcke touched off a firestorm here last month when he suggested the Brazilian organisers of the 2014 World Cup needed a "kick up the backside."
He and Blatter had to apologise for the remarks, which triggered an angry response from the host country. Sports Minister Aldo Rebelo then said Valcke would no longer be welcome as a Fifa spokesman.
Fifa's meeting with the Senate panel and with Rebelo next week was to focus on a bill regulating the World Cup, notably the sale of alcoholic beverages in stadiums.
Sales of alcoholic beverages in sports arenas have been banned in Brazil since 2003, but the World Cup bill will create an exception that had been demanded by world governing body Fifa.
The bill, which would also allow beer to be sold in stadiums during the 2013 Confederations Cup, received near unanimous support in Brazil's House of Deputies last week.
But it has yet to be endorsed by the Senate before being ratified by President Dilma Rousseff.
Fifa has for months expressed varying degrees of concern over the extent to which preparations – renovation or construction of stadiums as well as infrastructure projects – are on track for the first World Cup in Brazil since 1950.
"We expect actions and not only words," Blatter told reporters in Zurich last week after a two-day session of the governing body's executive committee.
But the Fifa president dismissed fears that fans would be scared off visiting Brazil by a combination of hotel prices and the exhausting traveling distances between venues.
"I am optimistic. There are always problems with hotels, the situation is not perfect," he said.
Soccer expert Marcos Guterman, author of the book "Football explains Brazil" said that as in 1950, this year will see a "a fresh paint Word Cup," meaning that the last coat of paint will be put on only hours before kickoff.
"Brazil will stage the World Cup and this will be a great show. Fifa awarded the World Cup to Brazil while being fully aware of the difficulties, that it would not be easy," Guterman told AFP.