Blatter attempts to smooth over row with Brazil caused by 2014 World Cup concerns
Thursday 08 March 2012
The Fifa president, Sepp Blatter, has asked for talks with Brazil's president, Dilma Rousseff, as concerns grow about the collapse of the relationship between football's governing body and the 2014 World Cup hosts.
Last weekend the Fifa secretary general, Jérôme Valcke, criticised delays in preparations for the tournament and the Brazilian government said it no longer wanted to deal with him. A written apology from Valcke came on Tuesday and it was followed by a letter from Blatter to the sports minister Aldo Rebelo.
He wrote: "Please allow me to express my deepest regret for the present situation. I would like to apologise to all those – above all, the Brazilian Government and President Dilma Rousseff – who feel that their honour and pride has been injured. Brazil deserves to host the World Cup and the entire world is looking forward to it. However, the sands of time have been running since 2007.
"Therefore, let us not waste time on entrenching our positions. Let us instead build something great together, as promised by President Lula during his presidency. I will be travelling in Asia until 10 March and afterwards I would like to meet President Rousseff and yourself as soon as possible – ideally next week."
Last weekend, Valcke asked 2014 organisers "to push yourself, kick your arse and just deliver this World Cup". He described Brazil's angry reaction as "puerile", but apologised 48 hours later.
Meanwhile, a Council of Europe assembly committee has said that Blatter's unopposed re-election last year should be the subject of an internal investigation into whether he unfairly exploited his position. A meeting of the Culture, Science, Education and Media Committee in Paris on "good governance and ethics in sport" passed a draft resolution calling on Fifa to launch an inquiry and to speed up reforms.
Blatter was re-elected in June after Mohamed bin Hammam withdrew, after being charged with bribery. In July the Qatari was banned for life.
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