Rousseff to meet with Blatter on World Cup
Brasilia: Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff will meet FIFA president Sepp Blatter on the sidelines of next week`s Davos World Economic Forum to discuss World Cup preparations, Rousseff`s office said Saturday.
The pair will meet after Blatter earlier this month slammed Brazil for being further behind schedule than previous host nations in the 16 years that he has been head of world football`s governing body.
Blatter accused Brazilian organisers of having begun preparing too late after being awarded the event in 2007.
Half of the 12 stadiums were unable to meet a FIFA completion deadline of December 31.
The Sao Paulo stadium which will host the opening match on June 12 will not be ready for pre-tournament testing until mid-April following a fatal accident there in late November.
But Rousseff countered by insisting that come June Brazil would prove itself capable of hosting the "cup of cups."
The Brazilian leader will meet Blatter at FIFA`s Zurich headquarters, her office told a leading agency.
A leading Brazilian newspaper indicated the two would meet next Thursday.
Countering Blatter`s criticisms, Rousseff said in a post to Twitter that "demand for tickets is the biggest there has been for any Cup, and that shows fans across the world have confidence in Brazil."
Relations between FIFA and Brazil have been tense for more than a year since Blatter`s secretary general Jerome Valcke said that the hosts needed a "kick up the backside" to bring preparations up to scratch.
Brazil has cut corners by scrapping some urban mobility schemes and also postponing some elements of modernisation of its sagging airport infrastructure. Air travel is often the only practical way to get around the continent-sized country.
Valcke, who apologised for his comment, will be back in Brazil next week, visiting Sao Paulo on Monday to assess latest developments.
He will go on to three other venues which have been lagging behind schedule -- Cuiaba, then Manaus and Natal in the north, before visiting Rio for a charity event on Wednesday.