The president of Brazil, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva confirmed he will not be present at the South Africa World Cup final on Sunday because he suddenly has urgent work in the Northeast of the country ravaged by floods that has left tens dead and thousands homeless. The rains have already stopped, however.
“I have been out of the country for eight days and many serious problems must be addressed in Brazil,” said Lula meeting the press after holding a private interview with South African president Jacob Zuma.
“We have terrible floods in the Northeast and I must really be back in Brazil”, he insisted.
Lula who this week launched the official logo and song for the next World Cup to be played in Brazil in 2014, shared breakfast with FIFA president Joseph Blatter before leaving for Brasília.
The Brazilian press also speculates that President Lula lost interest in the final Cup match after Brazil was eliminated in the quarter finals by Holland that will be disputing with Spain this year’s main trophy.
Actually the Brazilian diplomacy had organized a triumphal entry for Lula da Silva this weekend at Soccer City.
The Brazilian president made a tour of several African countries these last few days, including a regional conference, with the purpose of asserting his country’s influence in Africa (together with a recent television service specifically directed to the continent) and was planning to receive Brazil’s sixth World Cup before the eyes of the world and sitting next to several African leaders.
This however was frustrated by Holland.
“I invited my brother (Lula) to see the final, but he told me he has urgent business in Brazil. I must say that in his shoes I would have done the same,” said President Zuma.
Lula is also in the midst of a presidential campaign to have his hand picked candidate Dilma Rousseff succeed him in the post.
However in his absence the ruling Workers Party, founded by Lula, openly questioned Ms Rousseff, her policies and anticipated that if elected, she would not have the freedom of action enjoyed by Lula da Silva during his eight years.
This tainted Ms Rousseff’s campaign with lack of authority and under control of the radicals.
Lula is the most popular Brazilian leader since Getúlio Vargas in the fifties, with public opinion ratings in the range of 80%.
The ten-day African tour has confirmed that President Lula’s authority and prestige are unquestionable, but not so those of Ms. Rousseff.