Fifa issues staunch defence of 2014 World Cup organisation

World football's governing body has released a nine-point, three-page document addressing issues such as tournament funding, tax exemptions and ticket pricing
By Liam Twomey in Rio de Janeiro

Fifa has released a statement entitled "setting the record straight" in a bid to fend off persistent criticism relating to the organisation and funding of the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

In the three-page document, presented in the form of a Q&A, world football's governing body forcefully denies accusations of letting the host country foot the entire bill for the tournament and of making excessive demands, such as comprehensive tax exemption for its sponsors and the construction of 12 expensive stadiums.

The spiralling costs incurred by Brazil as a result of hosting the 2014 World Cup sparked violent unrest throughout the country at last summer's Confederations Cup and significant protests against the government and Fifa since.

On the issue of World Cup funding, the statement insisted: "Fifa has covered the entire operational costs of the World Cup to the tune of around $2 billion USD. We don’t take any public money for this, and instead we only use the money generated by the sale of World Cup TV and marketing rights.

"In terms of the host country’s investments, the figures quoted often include investments in infrastructure that are not directly linked to the cost of the World Cup and some have not even been made for the World Cup."

Addressing the accusation that Fifa demanded that Brazil construct 12 expensive stadiums for the tournament, the statement read: "Fifa neither demands that a country has to build 12 stadiums, nor how they are to be designed.

"There are some basic guidelines to follow so that the stadiums meet the requirements and expectations of the teams, security officers and the media, but first of all, each Host Country has to decide whether it wishes to use eight, ten or 12 stadiums. Brazil opted for 12.

"Each host country also has to design their stadiums in such a way that allows them to be used in a sustainable manner over the longer term."

In the statement, Fifa also denies insisting on a full tax exemption for tournament sponsors. "Fifa only requires an easing of customs procedures for some materials that need to be imported for the organisation of the World Cup and that are not on sale in the host country ... All of these exemptions are comparable in scope to those requested by organisers of other sporting or cultural events."

The nine-point document also addresses the issues of ticket pricing, forced evictions and sponsor exclusivity, as well as the social, economic and ecological impact of the tournament.

Fifa has come under renewed pressure in the build-up to this summer's World Cup following the publication of allegations in the Sunday Times suggesting impropriety in Qatar's successful bid to host the 2022 World Cup.

President Sepp Blatter's assertion that the British media's coverage of the story was "racist" has stirred further controversy, and on Tuesday several high-ranking members of Uefa called on the 78-year-old to stand down.