Pele: Brazil 'not ready' for World Cup
Brazil legend Pele has expressed his concern to ESPNsoccernet that his home country is "not ready" to host the World Cup in 2014.
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Pele cited chaotic organisation and communication difficulties as the biggest problems facing Brazil, and revealed he is now working with president Dilma Rousseff in a bid to get the World Cup finals back on track.
"Brazil is not ready," said Pele. "Not yet, it is not ready. With the team we have no problem, it is easy.
"The biggest problem, I think, is the organisation, that is a big problem, so too is the communications. I am now working directly with the President of Brazil to get it working and she is doing her best to help out with the organisation."
However, Pele did reveal he is optimistic the finals will run smoothly by the time 2014 rolls around, though the legend's fears currently going on in his homeland still come as something of a shock. FIFA too has expressed its concerns, but Pele's comments can be considered the first time anyone within the World Cup inner circle has confessed to the significance of the problems.
Pele's insight also comes on the day Brazil's sports minister Orlando Silva resigned following corruption allegations accusing him of participating in unlawful payment projects. Silva, who has become the sixth member forced to leave parliamentary office since June, claims his resignation was not linked to corruption but rather an effort to avoid the impending political turmoil of his government.
Responsible for the management of the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympics, Silva has been accused of kickback schemes linked to Brazil's social sports projects. Gil Castello Blanco, a spokesperson for the watchdog group Contas Abertas, maintained that Silva's departure would not halt preparations for the World Cup.
"I don't think it will have any effect on the preparations for our two mega events, the World Cup and the Olympics. Silva is more of a figurehead. The preparations will go ahead without him," Castello Blanco said.
Silva's exit comes not long after the ministers for agriculture, tourism, transport and defence were forced out of position following similar irregularities and suspicions, while FIFA has voiced its concerns that Brazil will struggle to host the World Cup in 2014.
FIFA general secretary Jerome Valcke, meanwhile, is concerned over delays at new stadiums and developments to existing stadia. Adjustments to the world famous Maracana, in particular, may not be completed in time.
Valcke criticised the slow development taking place and believes the South American country will not be ready to properly host the Confederations Cup in 2013, which considered a warm-up for world football's showpiece event.
"There is a lot of work to deliver," he told the Inside World Football Forum. "We don't have stadiums, we don't have airports, we don't have a national transportation system in place and we are one month away from the preliminary draw.
"The Maracana is definitely not currently a World Cup stadium and that's why it's closed. It will be ready at the last minute, a few months maybe, even a few weeks before the tournament if they don't speed up the process.
"In Sao Paulo, the main city in Brazil, they will not even be able to play the Confederations Cup in 2013 because the stadium will not be ready."
Valcke believes one obstacle is that Brazil are too preoccupied with winning the competition, saying: "In South Africa the main goal was to show the world that Africa could organise a World Cup. In Brazil, in a way the main issue is to win it. Otherwise they will talk about failure."
Pele was in London for his 71st birthday and to launch a new range of Pele Sport boots and iconic leisure clothes 'Viva A Revolucao Bonita'.
Harry Harris has written a biography of Pele entitled 'The Life and Times of Pele'. His new book '19: The Remarkable Story of United's League Championship Record' is available now