FIFA Now Says Russia Will Have a Very High Bar, After Brazil

World Cup in BrazilFIFA’s president Sepp Blatter has praised a “very special World Cup” in Brazil and gave the hosts a mark of 9.25 out of 10, slightly better that the 9 he had given South Africa four years ago.

“We calculated last night and used all the computers. Out of 10 we came to 9.25, nine and a quarter,” he said.

“So Brazil has improved since South Africa. Perfection does not exist. If someone at university got 10 out of 10 they must have some arrangements with the professors.”

The head of football’s world governing body said he was leaving Brazil “a happy man” after watching some “great football” during the tournament and praised the “intensity and passion” of the matches.

Blatter also praised “fair play” at the tournament and said there had been fewer injuries.

In all there were 177 yellow and 10 red cards, the lowest number since 32 teams took part for the first time from France 1998.

“There has been some criticism of referees that they are not giving enough yellow cards but this is not the case if you look at the results,” Blatter said.

Blatter pledged FIFA would continue the fight against racism and discrimination in football and said he was “not totally happy” that enough had been done so far.

At Sunday’s World Cup final, he discussed the issue with Russian President Vladimir Putin whose country is hosting the next World Cup in 2018. Putin “insisted we will fight against this,” Blatter said.

Blatter would not be drawn on comparing the Brazil tournament with past World Cups, but said the tournament had been “exceptional” and “the bar will be very high” for the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

He said he knew at the opening match between Brazil and Croatia that “something will change in this country,” and when the Netherlands beat world champions Spain 5-1 it confirmed that the World Cup would be “something very special.”

On the long ban on Uruguay striker Luis Suarez for biting, Blatter said: “As a footballer I feel with him, that such a punishment hurts, but as president of FIFA I have to accept the decision taken by our independent committees.”

Blatter also admitted to being “a little bit surprised” by the Golden Ball award to Lionel Messi as the outstanding player of the World Cup in Brazil.

Brazil 2014 saw a total attendance of 3 429 873 with an average of 53 592 for the 64 matches, with the 171 goals scored equaling the record from France 1998.

World Cup winners Germany scored the most goals (18) while hosts Brazil conceded the most (17) and quarter-finalists Costa Rica (2) the least.

FIFA also reported record global television viewing figures, with all-time records in Germany, the Netherlands and Belgium, as well as record use of social media.

Brazil organizers and government representatives meanwhile highlighted the legacy for the country in infra-structure, stadiums and technological know-how among other things.

Deputy Sports Minister Luis Fernandes said: “One of the landmarks the World Cup is leaving to the world is the certainty that it is possible to unite efficiency … with an environment of party, of celebration, of spontaneity that has reached the world.”

Sports Minister Aldo Rebelo said the World Cup had shown “the capacity football has to create a geo-political event with a great impact” which united people around the world.

“That you will feel like coming back one day is the biggest legacy and the biggest gift you can give to us,” he said.

The World Cup baton now passes to Russia, and chief organizer Alexey Sorokin said no one is going to be disappointed.

“We have been working for three and a half years now, but now the work has to intensify,” he said. “We will have a lot of surprises for you and a lot of treasures if you come to Russia in 2018”.

Surrender in Brazil

The British boss of a FIFA partner firm being investigated over alleged illegal World Cup ticket sales has surrendered to a judge in Brazil. Police had tried to arrest Ray Whelan four days ago but he was not at his exclusive Rio de Janeiro hotel. Mr. Whelan, director of Match Hospitality, denies any wrongdoing.

An international gang is suspected of acting at as many as four World Cups, earning about 90 million per tournament. The gang is believed to have made money by acquiring and illegally selling VIP tickets and hospitality packages.

Match held the rights to sell hospitality tickets for the World Cup.

Whelan turned himself in to judge Rosita Maria de Oliveira Netto. He has been rearrested by police and is expected to be taken to a detention facility.

According to a spokesperson for Mr Whelan’s lawyer, Fernando Fernandes, Mr, Whelan said: “I can finally start my criminal defense.”

Whelan has been indicted with 11 other people. He was briefly arrested on 7 July but was released after questioning.

Then last Thursday, police said they went to Whelan’s room in Rio’s Copacabana Palace hotel but he was no longer there and they were told he had left an hour earlier.

In a statement, Match said Mr. Whelan had simply left the hotel with Mr. Fernandes before police arrived.

It said: “We do not believe that the term ‘fugitive’ is appropriate under the circumstances as he is presently with his lawyer.”

Hundreds of tickets and large amounts of cash have been recovered during the police operation, which gathered evidence via phone taps.

Based in Zurich and in Cheadle, Cheshire, Match Hospitality describes itself as “the professional services company appointed by FIFA to provide ticketing, accommodation and event information technology services to FIFA”.

Its packages for games in Brazil ranged from 700 dollars up to more than 100,000. Of some roughly 3 million tickets available at the 2014 event, it was given about 450,000 to sell to hospitality clients.

Back to Domestic Problems

Brazil was humiliated when its national team was run over 7-1 at the hands of Germany in the World Cup semifinals and later 3-0 against Holland, but the authorities breathed sighs of relief as the tournament came to a close on Sunday with Germany’s victory over Argentina, amid muted street protests and a display of Brazil’s ability to successfully organize sporting mega-events.

“The Cup would have been perfect, except for the lack of the sixth championship,” Brazil’s president, Dilma Rousseff, said in a brief speech at Maracanã, the stadium that was turned into a militarized zone after security forces severely restricted access over concerns that demonstrations could disrupt the final match.

Brazilian soccer fans, who traditionally view Argentina as their chief rival, seemed to be generally pleased with the result of the game. When Germany scored its only goal in the 113th minute, securing victory in extra time, fireworks were set off across the city.

Though there were reports of a brawl between Brazilians and Argentines in Copacabana, one group of Argentines seemed determined to be festive on Sunday night, banging drums and singing and dancing.

However Brazil’s political fissures were exposed on the global stage when Brazilian fans inside the stadium booed Rousseff, who is running for re-election this year, and took up offensive chants about her.

She faced similar insults at the opening match a month ago – she did not attend any other games – reflecting spreading disenchantment with her government among some Brazilians who are prosperous enough to afford tickets to World Cup matches.

The authorities had assembled what ranked as one of the largest security operations ever in Brazil, with 25,000 soldiers and police officers giving Rio a martial feel throughout the day with sirens blaring and motorcades halting traffic.

About a mile from the stadium, several hundred police officers violently dispersed a small protest that largely focused criticism on the handling of the tournament by FIFA, the scandal-ridden organization which oversees global soccer.

The police used tear gas and pepper spray in the confrontation that left at least six people hurt. Before the game began on Sunday, a sweep by the police on Saturday in Rio and other Brazilian cities detained at least a dozen activists, pointing to efforts by the authorities to prevent demonstrations from escalating during the closing of the tournament and the growing use of intelligence operations to infiltrate protest movements.

Even as concerns persisted that more trouble could unfold in the hours after the last game, the World Cup ended largely as it had unfolded over the last month, without major complications. In the weeks leading up to the tournament, a wave of strikes by public employees and delays in finishing World Cup projects had heightened fears about Brazil’s organization of the event.

But now that the party is over, and the Brazilian team was knocked out and there is no sixth Cup, many Brazilians will become more focused on domestic politics, after their government used huge public loans to build lavish stadiums, disdaining calls for improved education, healthcare and transportation.



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