Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff has defended her government’s preparations to host the World Cup, the target of criticism over chronic delays and soaring costs.
As Brazil rushes to finish stadiums and deal with a wave of protests ahead of the June 12 kick-off, Rousseff partly blamed Fifa for the spiralling World Cup bill but said the money spent would leave a positive legacy.
The leftist leader, who is seeking reelection in October, said Fifa had assured Brazil that host stadiums would be built with private money.
But the government eventually realised private-sector investment would not even cover “half a stadium,” and provided most of the financing itself, Rousseff told journalists at a dinner at the presidential residence in Brasilia on Tuesday.
She said she would advise future host countries to “be very careful about the ‘responsibility matrix’” they sign with Fifa.
But she insisted that the vast majority of public spending related to the tournament was “for Brazil” over the long-term and not limited to the World Cup.
She said hosting the tournament had spurred many cities to undertake badly needed public transport projects – though she acknowledged many of them would not be completed before the World Cup.
Looking relaxed as she had dinner with journalists, Rousseff said protests would be allowed during the World Cup as long as they were peaceful and did not interfere with the event.
“We fully guarantee people’s security,” she said.
Brazil is still scrambling to finish five of the 12 host stadiums, including Sao Paulo’s Corinthians Arena, which will host the opening match but still has not had all its seats installed.