It’s hard to feel even the slightest bit sympathy with FIFA and people like Jerome Valcke but today is one such remarkable day.
Valcke finally came out and said the obvious last night and told Brazil that its World Cup preparations were a mess and that it needed a ‘kick up the backside” to get it going again and ready for the Confederations Cup next year and the World Cup in 2014.
The Brazilians took the hump at his straight talking and Sports Minister Aldo Rebelo announced the host nation would not longer recognise Valcke as FIFA’s point man for the tournament.
The tiny bit of sympathy I have for Valcke is tempered by the fact that he should have been saying these things years ago, as he tacitly admitted yesterday. He and Blatter have long known things weren’t going to schedule but they molly coddled the Brazilians so as not to hurt their feelings.
For example, just six weeks ago Valcke wrapped up a five-day trip to Brazil saying he was “filled with great impressions and pleased with the promising outcome of his trip.”
“This commitment to stage the best FIFA World Cup ever, the high level of planning and details to ensure not only an integrated and well developed operation for the event but a sustainable social, infrastructural and environment legacy was one of the key lessons of this trip,” he said.
He must have known such statements were rubbish (and if he didn’t he shouldn’t be in the job).
Anyone paying attention to the World Cup preparations has long been aware that Brazil isn’t doing what it should or quickly enough. Stadiums are behind schedule, are being built largely with public money, and airports, hotels and other legacy infrastructure are clearly not going to be ready on time or sufficient.
FIFA are now paying the price for taking so long to be honest.
It’s sad they have let things deteriorate to this stage. What’s sadder still is that the important issues are being ignored while the protagonists swap insults.