Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff on Tuesday defended her government’s spending on the World Cup, the target of protests in the run-up to the June 12 kick-off match.
Rousseff partly blamed FIFA for the spiralling World Cup bill, saying the football governing body had assured Brazil the stadiums would be built with private money.
The government eventually realized private-sector investment would not even cover “half a stadium” and provided most of the financing, Rousseff told journalists at the presidential residence in Brasilia.
Rousseff, who is seeking reelection in October and has faced criticism at home for the more than $11 billion Brazil is spending on the tournament, 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 also spoke about the mass street protests that marred last year’s Confederations Cup, a World Cup dress rehearsal.
The protests drew a million people into the streets and turned violent at times, raising fears of a repeat during the World Cup.
“We fully guarantee people’s security,” said Rousseff.
She said protests would be allowed during the tournament as long as they were peaceful and did not interfere with the tournament.