SAO PAULO – Brazil's senate wants to discuss a contentious World Cup bill with FIFA President Sepp Blatter instead of Secretary General Jerome Valcke, who last month caused a spat with the government after crudely complaining about the country's slow preparations.
The senate is asking Blatter to talk to a congressional commission debating the bill that gives FIFA the guarantees to organize the World Cup. Senators said they were told by FIFA that Valcke would represent the FIFA president.
The senate's press office said Tuesday the senators will wait for Blatter's answer before deciding whether they will agree to talk to Valcke. Senators said the decision to invite Blatter again does not mean they will not deal with Valcke anymore.
"We will insist that FIFA's president comes here so we can increase the status of the debate," Sen. Ana Amelia told local media.
Emails sent to FIFA's press office b The Associated Press were not immediately returned.
The congressional commission was expected to meet next week in the nation's capital of Brasilia, but FIFA's decision to send Valcke prompted its postponement. The senate said the commission could meet again next week only if Blatter decides to come to Brazil.
Blatter said recently that Valcke would remain FIFA's representative working with the Brazilian government despite the dispute that began after the secretary general sent a message to World Cup officials during an interview in London, saying preparations must move more quickly.
Valcke's visit to inspect host cities preparing for the World Cup and next year's Confederations Cup was canceled last month after his comments prompted Brazil's Sports Minister Aldo Rebelo to tell FIFA that the government was going to cut ties with him.
The government accepted the apologies from Valcke and Blatter, but the secretary general's comments made it more difficult for the lower house of Congress to approve the bill, which sets the legal and financial framework for the World Cup.
Valcke had said FIFA expected the law in place by the end of March, but the controversy over the sale of alcohol at games helped delay the vote in the lower house.
Alcohol is not allowed inside Brazilian stadiums, but FIFA demands a change because Budweiser is a World Cup sponsor. FIFA said Brazil agreed to change its law when it accepted to host the tournament in 2007.
Although language that specifically authorizes the sale of alcohol was removed to expedite approval in the lower house, the government said the proposed law has other articles that ensure Brazil fulfills all its commitments to FIFA in the hosting agreement.
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