Blatter makes 2014 a "personal dossier" as concerns mount

TOKYO Sat Dec 17, 2011 9:37am EST

FIFA President Sepp Blatter addresses a news conference in Zurich November 30, 2011.  REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann

FIFA President Sepp Blatter addresses a news conference in Zurich November 30, 2011.

Credit: Reuters/Arnd Wiegmann

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TOKYO (Reuters) - FIFA's growing concern at Brazil's lagging preparations for the 2014 World Cup have prompted president Sepp Blatter to make the matter a "personal dossier."

FIFA confirmed that Ricardo Teixeira, the beleaguered head of the Brazilian Football Confederation (CBF) and local organizing committee, would take a leave of absence for the next month.

Soccer's governing body also reiterated concerns about infrastructure and the legal situation over the organization of the event.

Brazil's Congress has yet to pass a so-called World Cup bill, which would give FIFA control of ticketing prices and distribution and implement FIFA rules on matters such as pirate goods, merchandising and unlicensed street vendors.

One of the sticking points of the bill is that FIFA wants Brazil to lift a ban on the sale of alcohol in stadiums.

The Brazilian government also wants to make cheap tickets available for students, pensioners and native Indians.

"We are concerned that we have not yet received confirmation of the World Cup bill," said FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke following a meeting of the executive committee.

"However, there is a meeting at parliament next week that should approve the bill we agreed back in 2007 with the Brazilian government.

He added: "There is no doubt that Brazil is not very far advanced, although at the level of the host cities things are working quite well. There remain problems with airports and roads, and there is not much public transport."

The good news was that FIFA had a good working relationship with sports minister Aldo Rebelo who took over the role after Orlando Silva resigned amid corruption allegations, which he has denied, in November.

"I must say we are very happy with the country's new sports minister and his support for the World Cup," said Valcke

A FIFA statement added: "The matter has now become a personal dossier of the FIFA Presidency."

Teixeira's future appeared to be in doubt after Blatter confirmed he would be on leave for the next month.

"Mr Teixeira has asked for leave until the end of January," said Blatter, who plans to meet Brazil president Dilma Rousseff.

"Until then he is out of FIFA, out of the organizing committee. At the end of January we will come back to that."

Teixeira is being investigated by Brazil's federal police on suspicion of corruption and money laundering and, although he denies the allegations, the matters have raised questions about his suitability to remain in charge of organizing the World Cup.

Early this month he appointed former World Cup striker Ronaldo to join the organizing committee in a move seen as an attempt to improve its image and deflect criticism from Teixeira.

(Writing by Brian Homewood; Editing by Martyn Herman)

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