Rio de Janeiro: FIFA president Sepp Blatter declared that the World Cup in Brazil was a success, saying that fears of anti-tournament protests had not materialised.
"I am a very happy man today," Blatter said at a sport management seminar in Rio de Janeiro.
"It is a success of the country, of this game," he said. The World Cup has escaped the massive protests that marred last year`s warm-up tournament, the Confederations Cup, when hundreds of thousands of people swarmed the streets to denounce the record USD 11 billion spent on hosting the event.
The protests have been much smaller during the World Cup, drawing a few hundred demonstrators still angry that the country spent so much on stadiums instead of hospitals, schools and public transport. "I would like to address my compliments to the people of Brazil. They accepted this World Cup," Blatter said.
While around 10 people protested against FIFA outside the seminar`s building, the head of football`s governing body asked: "Where is the social contest?"
The tournament was a success thanks to high television ratings, stadiums that are "works of art" and zero positive tests for doping, he said. "Let`s cross fingers, hoping that the last games will take place with the same pattern, the same atmosphere," he said.
Attending the same seminar, Brazil`s deputy sports minister Luis Fernandes joined local organising committee (LOC) member and 1994 world champion Bebeto in saluting the event so far. "I was always positive and I am very proud. It was a huge job to organise this tournament," said Bebeto.
Fernandes, credited with being a key link between the organisers and the government over the past two years, said closer greater integration between both sides had been crucial. "The predicted chaos hasn`t happened," opined Fernandes alluding to months of pessimistic media coverage regarding Brazil`s ability to host such a large scale event.
Brazil`s passion for football alone would not have been enough, Fernandes stressed.
He said the fact Brazil had managed to pull off an event which to date has run smoothly "is the result of years of careful planning." He admitted that the decision to "bring the government closer to the LOC was key to a success built on integration and teamwork."
COL communications director Saint-Clair Milesi meanwhile revealed latest polls from June 22 showing 67 percent of Brazilians as being happy with the World Cup compared with a May trough of 52 percent.