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FIFA's Valcke apologizes to Brazilian government
FIFA's Valcke apologizes after Brazilian government sends letter saying it won't deal with him
By The Associated Press

SAO PAULO (AP) ' FIFA Secretary General Jerome Valcke has apologized to Brazil after the country's government delivered a letter officially informing FIFA that it won't deal with him during its preparations for the 2014 World Cup.

In a statement addressed to Brazil's sports minister on Monday, Valcke said his comments translated from French to Portuguese last week came out much stronger than they were supposed to.

His response came just hours after Brazil delivered a letter to FIFA President Sepp Blatter officially announcing the country's position not to welcome Valcke.

Asking Brazil to speed up its World Cup preparations, Valcke was quoted on Friday saying: "You have to push yourself, kick your (backside)."

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.

SAO PAULO (AP) ' Brazil's sports minister says he has delivered a letter telling FIFA that it won't deal with Secretary General Jerome Valcke during the country's preparations for the 2014 World Cup.

The letter was sent Monday and was addressed to FIFA President Sepp Blatter. It was signed by Aldo Rebelo, who on Saturday had announced the country's position regarding Valcke.

"The Brazilian government will not continue to accept Mr. Jerome Valcke as the FIFA representative during the preparations of this World Cup," the letter said.

Valcke sent a blunt message on Friday asking the country to speed up its World Cup preparations: "You have to push yourself, kick your (backside)."

Rebelo said in the letter that Brazil has always behaved properly in its partnership with football's governing body and was surprised by the comments made by Valcke.

"In the last few years, especially with FIFA's 2014 World Cup in Brazil approaching, the relationship between the Brazilian government and FIFA has been marked by the highest level of respect, cordiality and reciprocity. Brazil has always behaved in a correct manner, conscious of its capacity of organizing the 20th football World Cup," the letter said. "Therefore, we were shocked with the inappropriate comments made by Mr. Jerome Valcke in the last few days to the international media."

The document said Valcke's words went against the "acceptable standards" of a relationship between a "sovereign country such as Brazil and a centenary international organization such as FIFA."

The trade of accusations began with Valcke's comments on Friday, when he also said that "things are not working in Brazil" and that "not a lot is moving" with just two years left before the World Cup and barely a year before the Confederations Cup.

Rebelo responded the next day, saying Valcke's statements were "offensive, inappropriate and unacceptable," and Valcke came back by saying the Brazilian government's reaction was "puerile."

The dispute added to the uncertainty over the country's preparations, as there are key matters yet to be solved.

The local World Cup organizing committee was forced to step in to try to keep the dispute from escalating in a year it considers key for the country's preparations.

The first effects of the war of words may be seen on Tuesday, when a congressional commission is expected to vote on a key bill regulating the World Cup.

FIFA needs the proposed law to be approved because it gives football's governing body the legal guarantees to organize the World Cup, but Valcke's comments could increase resistance from opposition lawmakers.

Among the issues which will go under consideration by congressmen on Tuesday is the sale of alcoholic beverages inside stadiums, something that currently is against the law in Brazil but which FIFA supports because Budweiser is a major World Cup sponsor.

FIFA says Brazil accepted such changes in the law when it was picked to host the tournament in 2007.

Voting on the bill was delayed several times because the government has been under criticism for giving FIFA too much power in Brazil. The government still hopes to have the proposed law approved soon.


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