FIFA's Valcke apologises to Brazil in World Cup row
BRASILIA — FIFA's secretary-general Jerome Valcke has apologised to Brazil, after he was denounced for saying that preparations for the 2014 World Cup were behind schedule, according to the country's government.
"I would like to present my apologies to everyone who was offended by my comments," Valcke said in a letter sent to the sports minister Aldo Rebelo, his department said.
Valcke said last week that Brazil needed "a kick up the backside" to catch up on vital infrastructure work, with just over two years to go to the start of football's showpiece global event and the first World Cup in Brazil since 1950.
The senior governing body official added that he "profoundly regretted that an incorrect interpretation" of his comments had triggered such an angry response from the host country.
He clarified that in French the phrase "se donner un coup de pied aux fesses" (to give someone a kick up the backside) only meant "to pick up the pace". The translation into Portuguese used a stronger expression, he added.
The Brazilian government on Saturday denounced Valcke as a "loudmouth" and said they no longer considered him a go-between between FIFA and the World Cup organisers.
On Monday, Rebelo made the government's position official, sending a letter to FIFA president Sepp Blatter, in which he said that they were "horrified" by his comments, Brazilian newspapers reported.
"If the result (of my comments) is that they no longer want to talk to me, if I'm not the person they want to work with, then it's a bit infantile," Valcke said, according to ESPN Brasil. "I'll still be going to Brazil on March 12."
For once on this subject, LOL. But seriously, Brazil - get ready, okay?