Blatter: "The World Cup is Not a Circus"; Asks for Time to Rebuild FIFA

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Blatter with Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff at the draw (Getty)
(WFI) FIFA president Sepp Blatter is calling for Brazil to accelerate its legacy plans for the 2014 World Cup, claiming the World Cup is not a circus that leaves nothing when the event is over.

"The World Cup is not a circus which arrives, stays for two weeks and is gone. There has to be the legacy," Blatter said in an interview with Sunday's O Globo newspaper.

Blatter said the most pressing problems in Brazil's 2014 preparations were different issues linked to the development of airports - FIFA's biggest concern - hotels and stadia, particularly Corinthians new venue that is being constructed in the eastern part of São Paulo.

"But all this represents little problems facing the magnitude of the event, which will be prepared in a very good way," he said.

"For me, it's a question of trust in federal, state and local governments. I have confidence. Brazil is aware of its responsibility."

Blatter said FIFA was confident Brazil had the finances in place to fund works for both the World Cup and Rio 2016 Olympics.

"Brazil has the necessary resources, especially at a time of a very large boom," he said, noting that Brazil was forecast to be among the world's five biggest economic powers by 2020.

Asked if he would support Ricardo Teixeira if the outspoken Brazil 2014 leader and federation chief stood as a candidate to succeed him, Blatter declined the opportunity.

"This issue belongs to the future. But I can say something about my predecessor. FIFA's Joao Havelange gave the image a great personality. He was totally different from me. He was a patriarch and not a former player. I worked 23 years with him. He was a great teacher," he said.

The 75-year-old Swiss openly criticised Teixeira on the eve of the qualifying draw for the 2014 World Cup held in Rio.

The head of Brazilian football had called the English media corrupt and refused to talk with them in Rio, a reaction to widespread reporting of allegations made by former England 2018 bid chairman David Triesman in May that Teixeira had demanded bribes to back the World Cup bid.

Teixeira's long-running feud with Brazilian football legend Pele initially meant the 70-year-old was snubbed for the World Cup draw.

But Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff issued an official invitation and announced the three-time World Cup champion as a global ambassador for the 2014 tournament, giving him a front-row seat at the draw - right next to Teixeira.

Teixeira also snubbed Pele for the prestigious ceremony to unveil the 2014 World Cup logo in Johannesburg on the sidelines of last year's tournament in South Africa. He was invited but did not attend the inaugural Soccerex Global Convention in Rio last November at which Teixeira was present.

Blatter was also asked about the corruption scandals that have tarnished his and FIFA's image.

After several weeks of slating Blatter, former FIFA presidential candidate Mohamed Bin Hammam was banned from football for life on July 23 following a FIFA ethics probe into allegations he bribed Caribbean Football Union members. He is set to appeal the ban. Controversial former CONCACAF president Jack Warner quit FIFA last month, preventing the ethics committee continuing its investigation into claims he colluded with Bin Hammam.

Blatter, who was last month re-elected for a final four-year term as FIFA boss, suggested it could take another three years to restore FIFA's battered reputation.

"It is important that in 2014, one year before the end of my term, is the culmination of all work to give a better picture of FIFA," he said.

"We invite you to give us the time to build this new image. Let's change things with patience. Let us use this World Cup, through our sponsors and broadcasts to pass positive messages. The objective is to use good football and have zero tolerance within and outside the field."

World Cup draw
One of the most interesting groups sees world champions Spain pitted against France in qualifying for the 2014 FIFA World Cup. Group I also features Belarus and Georgia.

The Netherlands, who lost 1-0 to Spain in the South Africa 2010 final, will do battle against Turkey, Hungary, Romania, Estonia and Andorra for a place at the 2014 finals.

England are favourite to top Group H, but tough competition will be provided by Euro 2012 co-hosts Poland and Ukraine. They also play Montenegro, Moldova and San Marino.

A total of 203 teams will be competing in the preliminary competition for Brazil 2014 to decide the 31 countries who will join the hosts for the 20th FIFA World Cup finals. The month-long tournament kicks off on June 12, 2014.

African Zone Draw
Group A: South Africa, Botswana, Central African Republic, Somalia or Ethiopia
Group B: Tunisia, Cape Verde Islands, Sierra Leone, Equatorial Guinea or Madagascar
Group C: Côte d'Ivoire, Morocco, Gambia, Chad or Tanzania
Group D: Ghana, Zambia, Sudan, Lesotho or Burundi
Group E: Burkina Faso, Gabon, Niger, Sao Tome e Principe or Congo
Group F: Nigeria, Malawi, Seychelles or Kenya, Djibouti or Namibia
Group G: Egypt, Guinea, Zimbabwe, Comoros or Mozambique
Group H: Algeria, Mali, Benin, Eritrea or Rwanda
Group I: Cameroon, Libya, Guinea-Bissau or Togo, Swaziland or Congo DR
Group J: Senegal, Uganda, Angola, Mauritius or Liberia

Asian Zone Draw
Group A: China, Jordan, Iraq, Singapore
Group B: Korea Republic, Kuwait, UAE, Lebanon
Group C: Japan, Uzbekistan, Syria, Korea DPR
Group D: Australia, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Thailand
Group E: Iran, Qatar, Bahrain, Indonesia

North, Central America and the Caribbean Zone Draw (Round Two)
Group A: El Salvador, Surinam, Cayman Islands, Dominican Republic
Group B: Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana, Barbados, Bermuda
Group C: Panama, Dominica, Nicaragua, Bahamas
Group D: Canada, St. Kitts and Nevis, Puerto Rico, St Lucia
Group E: Grenada, Guatemala, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Belize
Group F: Haiti, Antigua and Barbuda, Curacao, US Virgin Islands

North, Central America and the Caribbean Zone Draw (Round Three)
Group A: USA, Jamaica, Winner of R2 Grp E, Winner of R2 Grp F
Group B: Mexico, Costa Rica, Winner of R2 Grp A, Winner of R2 Grp B
Group C: Honduras, Cuba, Winner of R2 Grp D, Winner of R2 Grp C

Oceanian Zone Draw
Group A: Vanuatu, New Caledonia, American Samoa/Cook Islands/Samoa or Tonga, Tahiti
Group B: Fiji, New Zealand, Solomon Islands, Papua New Guinea

European Zone Draw
Group A: Croatia, Serbia, Belgium, Scotland, Macedonia, Wales
Group B: Italy, Denmark, Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Armenia, Malta.
Group C: Germany, Sweden, Republic of Ireland, Austria, Faroe Islands, Kazakhstan.
Group D: Netherlands, Turkey, Hungary, Romania, Estonia, Andorra.
Group E: Norway, Slovenia, Switzerland, Albania, Cyprus, Iceland.
Group F: Portugal, Russia, Israel, Northern Ireland, Azerbaijan, Luxembourg
Group G: Greece, Slovakia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Lithuania, Latvia, Lichtenstein
Group H: England, Montenegro, Ukraine, Poland, Moldova, San Marino
Group I: Spain, France, Belarus, Georgia, Finland


By INSIDER editor Mark Bisson

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