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Jun 29, 2013

Blatter: Football has overcome protests

FIFA president Sepp Blatter has praised Brazil's organisation of the 2013 Confederations Cup, insisting the quality of football has provided a welcome distraction to the ongoing protests.

• Brewin: FIFA must change
• Hulk dilemma

Thousands of people have taken part in demonstrations across the country, claiming the government is guilty of corruption and calling for reforms on a number of levels.

The protests took a tragic turn on Wednesday after a man died during clashes with police ahead of Brazil's semi-final win over Uruguay.

But Blatter believes the tournament will be significant to the rebuilding process for Brazil, rejecting claims that the country is not prepared to host the World Cup next year.

"As the president of FIFA, I have to say that, from an organisational point of view, when it comes to stadia and the football game, I am particularly happy with what has happened here," he told reporters in Brazil.

"We were able to play in six practically brand new stadia and we have received only compliments from the eight participants in this competition.

"On the football pitch, it's easy to say that it has been the best quality Confederations Cup we have ever organised. The matches were attractive even with a representative of Oceania in Tahiti at a lower standard.

"Naturally, the competition has been played in a situation where there was definitely social unrest with protests and manifestations, but I have to say finally that football has played a positive part here.

"It's part of emotion and I would say football has connected people in the stadia. Perhaps unfortunately it also connected people in the street.

"I can understand this social unrest, absolutely. But on the other hand, football at this time brings to the whole continent of 200 million these emotions and hope.

"Football is going out of this competition with a clear message. Yes, it was a good competition and we are happy to be back here next year in the Fifa World Cup with the 32 teams and 64 matches."

Amidst claims that the high cost of hosting the World Cup could cripple Brazil's economy, Blatter insists FIFA is focused on ensuring the tournament is not a burden.

"The aim of FIFA is not to take profit out of the country but to put into the country the necessary means and with other actions to make sure that this World Cup is a success," Blatter added.

"We have to work together to have a legacy for this World Cup, not only the stadia but a legacy for the environment and for the social part. For FIFA it is essential to have a successful World Cup because it's practically the only income of Fifa - 90 to 95 per cent - to develop the game around the world.

"At the end of South Africa, with all the success of the competition, we left a legacy a special fund of US$100m. I'm sure amounts like that or even higher would be possible here.

"You see the reaction of the government to change something. Something will be changed and then next year the World Cup will have a platform. It's a question of patience but also trust and confidence in the government and the LOC."

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