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Valcke promises hands-off approach to future World Cups

09 May 2014, 14:01

Zurich - Tired of finding himself being cast as "the bad guy", FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke will adopt a more hands-off approach to the organisation of future World Cups.

Valcke played a large part in the success of the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, overseeing the preparations and cajoling local organisers into action when they threatened to fall behind schedule.

But while South Africans were happy to follow Valcke's lead, 2014 hosts Brazil, with a proud soccer history of their own, have not been as compliant.

Relations reached a low two years ago when Valcke was quoted as saying that Brazil, whose preparations have been plagued by delays and political discussions, needed a "kick up the backside", bringing an angry reaction from the South American nation.

"I have learned that, of what I have said in the media in Brazil, 63 percent was negative," the Frenchman, referring to a recent study of his comments in Brazil, told reporters at FIFA headquarters.

"I cannot be the one who is always criticising the organisation of the country, the one who says that things are not working, while nobody tries to understand if I'm right or wrong, or if what I say is true or not," he added.

"Anytime I say something, I'm the bad one, not a single time have they said that I may be right. You have the impression that it's just so easy to create problems and so easy to put me in conflict with the country.

"I have to rethink my role, avoid doing what I've done over the last two World Cups and have a different interaction with the local organising committee to avoid having to fly there every two months.

"(But) I'm not done with the World Cup," he said looking ahead to the 2018 tournament in Russia and 2022 in Qatar. "I'm secretary general and one of my jobs is to make sure the World Cup is organised."


Valcke said that Brazil's three different levels of government made the country "a difficult one to work in", further complicated by a presidential election halfway through the preparations.

"We faced a general (presidential) election in Brazil and it was not easy moving from Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva to a new president because it always takes some time for the new government to enter into the matter and we had also a number of changes of ministers," he added.

Valcke said the whole experience might also prompt FIFA to look at how they organise World Cup bidding for the future and demand greater commitment from the host nation.

"It should at least be part of the bidding process that there are commitments from the host country on a number of points," he said.

"Maybe, it cannot just be a decision from the state president, or a minister, but it should be supported by the Senate, Congress, or national assembly. When we are talking about the World Cup, it should be supported by the country, so there is no more potential conflict."

Despite the problems faced by South Africa and Brazil, Valcke said it was perfectly possible to stage the World Cup in a single country as long as it was not expanded.

In October, UEFA president Michel Platini suggested that the World Cup could be expanded to 40 teams to accommodate more sides from Africa and Asia.

"You don't need to divide the organisation of the World Cup between more than one country, there are many countries in the world who can organise a World Cup with 32 teams," he said.

"But we should not increase the number of teams because then it would make it more difficult, it's already a lot of teams and 30 days long."

- Reuters


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