Skip to main content

FIFA secretary general apologizes to Brazil

By Marilia Brocchetto, CNN
updated 4:14 PM EST, Tue March 6, 2012
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: FIFA President Sepp Blatter also sent his own apology to Brazil
  • FIFA's secretary general has been quoted as saying Brazil needs a "kick up the backside"
  • Jerome Valcke says there was a misinterpretation in the translation into Portuguese
  • He repeats concerns about Brazil's progress on hosting the 2014 World Cup

(CNN) -- FIFA Secretary General Jerome Valcke has apologized to Brazil's minister of sports for a "misinterpretation in the translation" of his comment saying the country needs a "kick up the backside" to be ready in time for the 2014 World Cup.

Valcke's letter of apology to Aldo Rebelo came hours after the country had sent official notice to FIFA that it would no longer accept Valcke as liaison.

"We received with astonishment the inappropriate statements by Mr. Jerome Valcke in recent days to the international press. The form and content of statements escaped the patterns of harmonious coexistence between a sovereign country such as Brazil and an international organization, such as FIFA," wrote Rebelo.

Valcke, in his letter Monday, explained that in French, "se donner un coup de pied aux fesses" means "to pick up the pace." Unfortunately, he wrote, the expression had been translated so that in Portuguese it used much "stronger words."

The translation was a literal one.

FIFA: Brazil must sell beer in stadiums
Beer at World Cup stirs controversy

"There is certainly an air of concern at FIFA, and as the person who is ultimately responsible for delivery of the FIFA World Cup, I am under quite some pressure," he said. Valcke and a large team of FIFA representatives are due to visit Brazil next week.

FIFA President Sepp Blatter also sent his own apology.

The Sports Ministry said in a news release that it had it received a letter from Blatter on Tuesday.

According the ministry, Blatter said: "My only comment in relation to this issue is to apologize to all of those whose honor and pride were injured, especially the Brazilian government and President Dilma Rousseff."

On Friday, Valcke had once again criticized Brazil's progress, saying the country is more worried about winning the World Cup that preparing for it. FIFA has repeatedly voiced its concern that stadiums and other infrastructure, such as airports, are not being built quickly enough. Among other issues, Brazilian lawmakers have balked at approving the sale of beer at games, which is illegal there.

Valcke stressed that he has no doubt that the 2014 FIFA World Cup will be held in Brazil and that he holds great respect and admiration for the nation.

According to Brazilian state run news agency Agencia Brasil, the Ministry of Sports will decide whether to accept the apology after reviewing Valcke's letter.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 7:45 AM EDT, Thu July 31, 2014
Cultural y Deportivo Leonesa line up in their tuxedo kit.
When celebrating an important anniversary, it's always good to look your best. At least that's theory for a Spanish football team's preseason tuxedo kit.
updated 7:03 AM EDT, Wed July 30, 2014
While many top European clubs are targeting the U.S. market, French football is setting its sights on expanding into Asia -- with China playing a key role.
updated 8:29 AM EDT, Sun July 27, 2014
Major League Soccer has snared another big name from England with former Chelsea star Frank Lampard committing his future to New York City FC.
updated 12:56 PM EDT, Wed July 23, 2014
Europe's top clubs have booked a summer holiday to the U.S. -- but this is business not pleasure as they look to cash in on the World Cup afterglow.
updated 2:28 PM EDT, Tue July 22, 2014
Brazil's new coach Dunga won the World Cup as a player in 1994.
Former World Cup-winning captain Dunga is appointed coach of Brazil's national team for the second time, charged with restoring national pride.
updated 10:20 AM EDT, Tue July 22, 2014
Colombia's World Cup star James Rodriguez continues Real Madrid's long tradition of signing "Galacticos."
updated 6:07 AM EDT, Mon July 21, 2014
Germany's World Cup-winning captain Philipp Lahm has decided to go out at the top by announcing his retirement from international football.
The U.S. government recognizes Kosovo, as do most European states, but getting football's ruling bodies to play ball has proved harder.
updated 11:04 AM EDT, Wed June 4, 2014
National heroes don't always belong to one country. Ask France's World Cup hero Patrick Vieira, who is rediscovering his roots.
CNN's John Sinnott on the quiet Cambridge graduate behind Liverpool's resurgent campaign.
updated 11:19 AM EDT, Fri May 30, 2014
They are the dispossessed -- stateless, and unrecognized by football's ruling body. But these teams will still play at their own World Cup.
Louis van Gaal will be a perfect fit for Manchester United the club, business and brand, says CNN's Patrick Snell.
ADVERTISEMENT