FIFA's Valcke defends World Cup fan fests
By Andrew Downie
SAO PAULO (Reuters) - FIFA has defended the fan fests due to take place in the 12 host cities at this year's World Cup in Brazil, saying income raised from the events can cover the costs of holding them.
"FIFA has worked in close cooperation with the host cities to guarantee that costs will be kept to a minimum," Jerome Valcke, FIFA's secretary general wrote in Wedensday's edition of the Folha de S. Paulo newspaper.
"The cost of organising a 32-day fan fest is, in many cases, less than what is spent on New Year's celebrations, or Carnival, or regional festivals."
Valcke said soccer's world governing body was giving "significant financial help" in providing infrastructure for the events, including big screens, stages, and lighting, and the celebrations would provide priceless international exposure.
"Best of all, even though it doesn't seem to interest the media, is that the cities can cover all their costs through the generation of income from, for example, the profit from restaurants," he wrote.
"That brought an enormous financial return for previous fan fests," he added, without providing specific figures.
Valcke's response came a fortnight after Recife reneged on a plan to invest at least 11 million Brazilian reais ($4.7 million) in setting up a fan fest, although it said it would still hold the event if private investors could be found.
Xico Sa, a leading writer from the region, celebrated that decision in a Folha column, saying Recife was "morally correct" in refusing to pay for the events. Continued...