The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION
Rousseff, Blatter meet at FIFA, express faith in World Cup amid latest delays in Brazil
ZURICH - The presidents of Brazil and FIFA have expressed their faith in organizing a successful World Cup, amid missed construction deadlines and warnings about dropping one host city.
"We are ready. We will be staging the cup of all cups," Brazil President Dilma Rousseff said through a translator at FIFA headquarters on Thursday.
Rousseff spoke at a joint news conference with FIFA President Sepp Blatter after their one-hour meeting, though no questions were allowed.
She said her government was strongly committed to completing all the public works required, which she described as "relatively simple" to build.
Stadiums, city transport projects and airports have fallen behind schedule ahead of the June 12 kickoff, including at the new Sao Paulo venue which is intended to stage the opening ceremony and Brazil vs. Croatia match that day.
"It is all a matter of confidence and mutual trust. Confidence prevails," Blatter said, promising a "wonderful" World Cup.
Rousseff visited FIFA before attending the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, and direct from inaugurating the stadium in Natal. It's just the seventh of 12 intended venues to be completed despite FIFA imposing a December 2013 deadline.
This week, FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke warned that Curitiba was not assured of being a host city because of stadium delays. FIFA requested progress reports by Feb. 18 to show the work can be done.
Blatter greeted Rousseff at the FIFA entrance and engaged her in a handshake which the football body promotes in partnership with the Nobel Peace Center.
Their gesture follows years of public sparring between Brazil and FIFA over the troubled World Cup preparations.
The diplomatic show of unity followed a consistent pattern of presidential peacemaking after more frank opinions have been expressed in low-profile settings.
This month Blatter said in an interview with Swiss daily 24 Heures that Brazil was the furthest behind in all the World Cups he's been involved in.
Stadium building lags further behind 2010 World Cup host South Africa exactly four years ago, despite the first African host nation being given just six years to prepare compared to seven for Brazil.
Rousseff arrived at FIFA one day after acknowledging problems with the stadium in Curitiba during a ceremony to inaugurate the Arena das Dunas in Natal.
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