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Apr 24, 2014

World Cup cities must host fanfests

SAO PAULO -- All 12 host cities have "no choice" and "must" organize their own fanfest, FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke's warned Brazil World Cup organizers on Thursday.

Recife will host World Cup matches at the Arena Pernambuco.

The blunt warning comes as officials in the northeastern city of Recife reiterate they still don't know whether they will stage a fanfest, which allows fans without tickets to watch matches for free on large screens in public areas.

"The cities who have not yet committed to have their own fanfest, it's a mistake, and they have to do it, there is no choice," Valcke said after visiting the fanfest site in the northeastern city of Fortaleza. "There must be a fanfest in each of the 12 host cities in Brazil. That's a must."

Valcke stressed the fanfests are not optional, they are a requirement from FIFA. Soccer's governing body said it will not pay entirely for the events, although it was open to reducing requirements and costs to help the host cities. Some cities have already made changes because of security concerns about planned street protests.

"It's not something we are asking for, it has to be (done)," Valcke said. "And I hope that the cities who are not yet on the way to finalize their fanfest, they are just listening to what I'm saying."

FIFA claimed all cities signed contracts agreeing to the fanfests, and has threatened to sue the ones which don't stage them.

Officials in Recife, who have said the city will not invest public money on the fanfest, said on Thursday they were still trying to find sponsorship and they didn't know whether the event would take place.

Recife also said it would not make any comments directly related to Valcke's warning. It also said there was no timetable or deadline to reach a final decision on its fanfest. FIFA said some nearby cities have volunteered to stage the event in case Recife doesn't do it.

FIFA published a list of all the fanfest locations on Thursday, including the one in Recife.

FIFA said more than 24 million people attended fanfests in the last two tournaments.

The fanfests are just one of the concerns for FIFA as Brazil struggles to get ready for the World Cup with seven weeks until the June 12 opener. Infrastructure work and three of the stadiums are yet to be completed, including the one hosting the opener between Brazil and Croatia.

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