FIFA urges Brazil to pass World Cup legislation

Brasilia: Brazil must hurry up and pass a package of new laws if the 2014 World Cup is to go ahead, FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke told the country`s Congress on Tuesday, adding there was "not a day to lose".

"Either we do (the Cup) together or we will never manage it," said Valcke, pointing out that Brazil had first been asked to pass the legislation in 2007 when it was awarded the right to host the tournament.

Brazil`s Congress must agree to implement a number of special rules in the so-called World Cup law, covering matters ranging from the price of tickets to penalties for selling pirate merchandise and the sale of alcohol in stadiums.

Some of these over-ride local laws, which have stirred up nationalistic sentiment in a country intensely proud of its soccer tradition and its recent economic progress.

Some Congressmen have already dug in their heels, threatening to delay the bill`s approval and adding to concerns over Brazil`s lagging preparations for the global showpiece.

Former Brazil striker Romario, himself now a Congressman, is one of the most outspoken critics, saying the law would trample on the country`s sovereignty.

Valcke said Brazil was aware of FIFA`s conditions when it signed up to host the tournament and said similar requirements were made of recent hosts including Germany in 2006 and South Africa in 2010.

"We haven`t changed a word of what was accepted and what was asked for by FIFA in 2007 so that Brazil would host this World Cup," Valcke told a parliamentary commission scrutinising the 40-page draft law before it is put to a plenary vote.

In one concession to Brazil`s concerns, Valcke said FIFA would offer a limited number of cut-price tickets for around $25 each after President Dilma Rousseff told him that Brazil would not scrap half-price ticket rights for pensioners.

Those tickets would make up about 10 percent of the total.

However, he said FIFA would not back down on its demand that alcohol be sold in stadiums during the tournament and said there was no evidence that this had led to violent behaviour at past World Cups.

Some Brazilian states ban alcohol sales in stadiums.

The law would allow only FIFA sponsors` beverages to be sold and prohibit advertising by sponsors` competitors near stadiums.

Brazil, which is struggling to get stadiums and other vital infrastructure in place in time for the event, has already passed a law that exempts FIFA and its partners from taxes on revenue they will generate.

The World Cup law had been expected to be voted on in 2011 but Brazil`s sports ministry said on Tuesday it would not happen until next year after a decision to hold up to 20 more debates on it.

Next to Valcke was Ricardo Teixeira, the controversial head of Brazil`s football confederation and front man for its World Cup preparations who said little during more than three hours of debate.

Teixeira is being investigated by Brazilian police over allegations of money laundering and fraud.

Romario has already promised to lead the struggle against the law.

"I will battle so that FIFA doesn`t create a state within this state," he said. In separate comments to Reuters later, he said he would oppose the law in Congress but acknowledged that the soccer body was likely to get most of what it wanted.

"From what I saw today there is a big chance that 90 percent of what they want will pass," he said.

Bureau Report

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