It takes 'Fifa samba' to host Brazil Wcup
It takes a different kind of Fifa to organise the World Cup in a country such as Brazil. Secretary general Jerome Valcke calls it "Fifa Samba."
Valcke said Friday the governing body had to change to be able to handle the complex task of hosting the World Cup in the continent-sized country. He says Fifa "became more flexible."
Valcke said many of the challenges in Brazil are similar to the ones in South Africa, and are likely to be repeated when the World Cup goes to Russia in 2018 and Qatar in 2022.
He also said his criticism of Brazil's preparations earlier this year had marked a turning point in the relationship between Fifa and the government, and that he doesn't think next year's Confederations Cup will be "a real rehearsal of the World Cup."
On the eve of the Confederations Cup draw in Sao Paulo, Valcke said Fifa quickly realised that it needed a different approach to dealing with Brazil's complex government structure and the intricacies of the country.
He said the need to change became clear when Fifa paid a visit after Brazil won the right in 2007 to host the World Cup - and heard a worrisome message from the future hosts.
"We arrived in Brazil saying, 'OK, we know how to organise the World Cup, that's us,'" he said. "And Brazil was saying, 'Sorry, sorry, we know what's football and you will not tell us how to make it."
Fifa knew it would need to adapt to make it work.
"Then we became a Fifa Samba," he said. "We become more flexible."
He said it was hard to deal with Brazil's three levels of governments to get projects under way, as each level - the federal, state and municipal - is responsible for a different area.
"In one meeting you have three different meetings, your work is a bit more difficult," Valcke said. "When you give a World Cup seven years in advance, you never think about that, I'm not talking about us, but most of the people, they don't think about this, they say, 'Oh, we have seven years, it's more than enough.'"
Valcke said his harsh criticism of Brazil's preparations at the beginning of the year forced both sides to try to find a way to move forward.
"Due to my words we reached a level where we were going nowhere," Valcke said.
"My words created a war in a way," he said. "It took time. It took a long, long time to digest what I said. I have to recognise that Brazil did a lot, it came a long way to say, 'OK, let's meet all of us, sit around the table and see how it works.'"
He said the parties moved on and the relationship improved significantly, as did the country's preparations.
"Suddenly we understood that we must have the same objective," Valcke said. "Work has been done, if we were at the same level today that we were 10 months ago, I would be as negative as I was 10 months ago. Work has been done. We are moving on, and in the right way."
Valcke said the South Africa World Cup marked the first time Fifa became fully involved in the tournament's organisation. Its strong presence has been equally needed in Brazil and is likely to be necessary in the next two World Cups too.
"You have a number of things which are quite comparable," he said. "And if you think about Russia, it's more or less the same."
Valcke said the focus on South Africa and the upcoming host nations will be mainly on infrastructure, which was not the case in Germany in 2006 -when Fifa provided support but didn't need to be hands-on.
"(In South Africa) it was the first time that Fifa was so involved in the organisation of a World Cup," he said. "Meaning that we worked and we helped the local organising committee, it was really a day-to-day work. For the first time Fifa learned what it means to organise a World Cup from A to Z."
Valcke said Fifa does not expect Brazil to be fully ready for the World Cup when the Confederations Cup arrives next June.
"Here we will have the six stadiums, we know that now," Valcke said. "The question again is more to make sure that we test what can be tested during the Confederations Cup and not try to think that we will have a real rehearsal of the World Cup. It will not be the case."