BERNE (Reuters) - FIFA president Sepp Blatter cannot remember a World Cup host nation falling as far behind with their preparations as Brazil have, he said in an interview.
“Brazil has just found out what it means and has started work much too late,” he told the Lausanne-based newspaper 24 Heures.
“No country has been so far behind in preparations since I have been at FIFA even though it is the only host nation which has had so much time, seven years, in which to prepare.”
Blatter has experience of nine World Cups, dating back to Argentina in 1978. He joined soccer’s ruling body as a development officer in 1975 before becoming secretary general and then taking over as president in 1998.
Six of the 12 stadiums in Brazil missed the final deadline of December 31 which FIFA set for them to be completed and put at the disposal of organizers.
They are the venues in Sao Paulo, Curitiba, Porto Alegre, Cuiaba, Natal and Manaus.
Many infrastructure and transport projects have been shelved or scaled back and organizers are still debating how to provide extra flights for the thousands of travelling supporters.
Brazil were elected unopposed as hosts in 2007 under the old rotation system which awarded the finals to South America.
The other nine South American countries had agreed to support Brazil as the only candidate in 2003, in effect giving them an additional four years to get ready.
Blatter also said he was resigned to further protests such as those that took place during last year’s Confederations Cup.
”I am an optimist, not a pessimist. I am therefore not worried,“ he explained. ”But we do know there will be protests again.
”The last ones during the Confederations Cup in this same country had their roots in the social networks.
“There was no specific goal, or a genuine demand, but during the World Cup the protests will perhaps be more concrete, more organized,” said Blatter.
“But football will be protected, I don’t believe that Brazilians will attack the football directly. For them it’s a religion.”
The World Cup starts in June.
Reporting by Brian Homewood, editing by Tony Jimenez nL3N0KG30Y