Blatter: Best-ever Confederations Cup brings hope to Brazil

The Fifa supremo is thrilled at the way in which the tournament has been staged ahead of next year's World Cup and believes football can unify protesters on the streets
By Greg Stobart in Rio de Janeiro

Fifa president Sepp Blatter believes 2013 has seen the best-ever Confederations Cup tournament despite the mass protests in the streets of Brazil in the past few weeks.

A series of memorable fixtures in the so-called 'Cup of champions' have been blighted by civil unrest outside the grounds even while matches have been taking place, but Blatter believes the events of the past two weeks are extremely encouraging ahead of the World Cup next year.

"As the president of Fifa, I have to say that, from an organisational point of view, when it comes to stadia and the football game, I am particularly happy with what has happened here," he told reporters in Brazil.

"We were able to play in six practically brand new stadia and we have received only compliments from the eight participants in this competition.

"On the football pitch, it’s easy to say that it has been the best quality Confederations Cup we have ever organised. The matches were attractive even with a representative of Oceania in Tahiti at a lower standard.

"I have to say it was also a fair competition. There was not one red card and very few yellow cards. I have to compliment the players for presenting to us such a spectacular competition.

"Naturally, the competition has been played in a situation where there was definitely social unrest with protests and manifestations, but I have to say finally that football has played a positive part here.

"It’s part of emotion and I would say football has connected people in the stadia. Perhaps unfortunately it also connected people in the street.

"Football is going out of this competition with a clear message. Yes, it was a good competition and we are happy to be back here next year in the Fifa World Cup with the 32 teams and 64 matches.

"The Fifa World Cup is an event and I would say it is the world’s greatest single sporting event. When it comes to television audience, it’s greater than any other including the Olympic Games.

"The aim of Fifa is not to take profit out of the country but to put into the country the necessary means and with other actions to make sure that this World Cup is a success.

"We have to work together to have a legacy for this World Cup, not only the stadia but a legacy for the environment and for the social part. For Fifa it is essential to have a successful World Cup because it’s practically the only income of Fifa - 90 to 95 per cent - to develop the game around the world.

"I can understand this social unrest, absolutely. But on the other hand, football at this time brings to the whole continent of 200 million these emotions and hope.

"At the end of South Africa, with all the success of the competition, we left a legacy a special fund of US$100m. I’m sure amounts like that or even higher would be possible here.

"You see the reaction of the government to change something. Something will be changed and then next year the World Cup will have a platform. It’s a question of patience but also trust and confidence in the government and the LOC.

"We will never stop ‘Football for Hope’ because that’s what football is about. Football is played in perturbed countries all over the world, from places like Syria to places in Europe where there is also social unrest. This is football, it’s hope for the people and gives emotions.

"There was never a doubt in Fifa concerning this comp to stop it or even think about a Plan B, which has been explained by the secretary general. It is a question of trust and confidence in the government and also in the population of Brazil - the population of Brazil like football. I trust the organisation of the security here.

"I cannot answer when it comes to possible decisions to be taken by the government of this country, when at the same time if you have protests and demonstrations it deserves attention.

"It was good that we made this test but it was more than a test. It was really the cup of the champions and we’ve seen it on the field of football. I can say that the test has been successful because we now know what to change and all the good that has been done.

"You [the media] are the image-maker of sport. Whatever I say about the image, I would say that our image is enhanced by this competition."