By Andrew Warshaw at the Inside World Football Forum in MoscowJune 24 - Brazil's preparations for the 2014 World Cup came under attack today from FIFA general secretary Jérôme Valcke, who warned the five-time winners of the tournament were lagging behind schedule and were not the best model for 2018 hosts Russia to copy.
Category: Moscow Forum
Published on Friday, 24 June 2011 11:57
Speaking at the inaugural Inside World Football Moscow Forum here, Valcke said South Africa last year represented a far better blueprint for any country wishing to hold the biggest football tournament on the planet.
Giving the keynote address to a packed audience in the Russian capital, Valcke said the World Cup could not be compared to the Olympics - which Rio is also hosting in 2016.
Issuing a major wake-up call to the Brazilian organisers, Valcke declared: "It is clear to understand that an Olympic tournament is one city.
"The World Cup is a national event.
"There is a lot of work to deliver.
"We don't have stadiums, we don't have airports, we don't have a national transportation system in place and we are one month away from the preliminary draw."
Unlike Brazil, Valcke said Russia needed ideally to be ready two or three years before hosting in 2018 in order to avoid the kind of pitfalls that have dogged the South American country, even among its most iconic venues.
"The Maracanã (pictured) is definitely not currently a World Cup stadium and that's why it's closed," he said.
"It will be ready at the last minute, a few months maybe, even a few weeks before the tournament if they don't speed up the process.
"In Sao Paolo, the main city in Brazil, they will not even be able to play the Confederations Cup in 2013 because the stadium will not be ready."
Valcke poured further scorn on Brazil by suggesting Russia, which has to build 13 of its 16 stadiums from scratch, was already ahead when it comes to financial backing.
"We have to say we are far more advanced in Russia than we are, even today, in terms of government guarantees in Brazil," he said.
"We have a level of support from the Russian Government which is quite amazing."
Valcke suggested Russia look to South Africa rather than Brazil if they need any encouragement.
"In South Africa the main goal was to show the world that Africa could organise a World Cup," he added.
"In Brazil in a way the main issue is to win it.
"Otherwise they will talk about failure.
"There is not a country in the world that could potentially organise the World Cup tomorrow except one - South Africa."
"There was a time when people were talking about a Plan B for South Africa.
"I can tell you that South Africa is now a Plan B for anywhere else.
"Russia has a lot of decisions to make, including host cities, ideally by 2015.
"It will be a long journey but FIFA will support Russia 1,000 percent."
Valcke's brief appearance was conspicuous by his total refusal to discuss the crisis that has enveloped FIFA over the past few weeks.
Normally approachable and forthcoming, he looked particularly nervous about being asked any questions to do with the bribery scandal that has paralysed the organisation, almost as if he had been briefed by his boss, Sepp Blatter, not to get into any more scrapes following his infamous comments about the Qatar 2022 World Cup.
"I'm here to talk about football," Valcke told his audience.
"Sometimes at FIFA we need this."
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