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Sunday, March 11, 2012

FIFA delays 2014 inspection trip to Brazil

ZURICH: FIFA has postponed a planned 2014 World Cup inspection trip to Brazil next week by its top administrator Jerome Valcke, who sparked anger there by criticizing delays in preparations. 

The governing body said Friday that FIFA President Sepp Blatter will first visit Brazil and meet with President Dilma Rousseff. 

Blatter "has personally written today (Friday) to the President of Brazil Dilma Rousseff in order to schedule a date for an agreed meeting," FIFA said in a statement. 

FIFA said that secretary general Valcke will resume his scheduled tour of 2014 host cities after the presidents meet, which could happen next week. 

Valcke planned to join former Brazil playing greats Ronaldo and Bebeto in Recife, Brasilia and Cuiaba on the second of six tours this year. 

He angered Brazil last Friday, saying: "You have to push yourself, kick your (backside),"when asked in England about problems planning the 32-nation, monthlong World Cup tournament which will attract hundreds of thousands of fans from across the world. 

Valcke is also responsible for overseeing the 2013 Confederations Cup, an eight-nation event designed to test Brazil's infrastructure. It kicks off in June next year, although it is still unclear if Recife and Salvador will be ready to host matches. 

Brazil Sports Minister Aldo Rebelo described the comments as "unacceptable, offensive and inappropriate."He demanded Valcke's removal from the project, before accepting written apologies from the French official and Blatter. 

Despite the soured relations, FIFA officials continue to visit and work with Brazil's local organizing committee. A team of nearly 40 people were in the southern city of Curitiba on Thursday.