We are doing good things for Brazil: FIFA

Rio de Janeiro, June 25 (IANS) FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke has moved to defuse anti-World Cup sentiment in Brazil, insisting world football's governing body is "doing good things" for the South American nation.

Brazil President Dilma Rousseff met with state governors and city mayors Monday to seek an end to the unrest which has prompted more than a million fans to march through Brazil's major cities, reports Xinhua.

Protests began in Sao Paulo last week in response to higher public transport fares, but they have turned into a nation-wide rally against corruption.

Many demonstrators have expressed anger at the billions of dollars spent on new football stadiums for next year's World Cup instead of improvements to the country's dire public services like health, transport and education.

"People think we come in, enjoy the country and run away, without paying tax or creating anything," Valcke said during a briefing here Monday.

"FIFA is not making four billion reais to run away in a big Mercedes Benz. I'm not ashamed of what we're going, we're doing good things for Brazil. We have 20 competitions in a four-year cycle and the World Cup is the only one of them which makes money. We have duties, responsibilities and programs that we are supporting."

Brazil's Sports Minister Aldo Rebelo also sought to placate rising concern over the World Cup costs. According to former striker-turned politician Romario, the government is spending $13 billion on the event.

"None of the money earmarked for health and education has been diverted to the building of World Cup stadiums," Rebelo told reporters.

Protestors have vowed to stage more marches during the final days of the Confederations Cup, a World Cup warmup event currently being played in six Brazilian cities.

Rallies are planned in Belo Horizonte on Wednesday, where Brazil will play Uruguay in the first semi-final, and the following day in Fortaleza, where Spain meet Italy.

Police are also preparing for the prospect of a mass protest before Sunday's final at the Maracana stadium in Rio de Janeiro.

Matches