SAO PAULO (AP) – Brazilian soccer great Romario once thought his country would hold the best World Cup in history. Not anymore.
Romario is now a congressman and his assessment for the 2014 showcase came after he toured the 12 host cities.
''When it was announced that the World Cup would be in Brazil, we celebrated a lot,'' Romario said in an interview published Monday with the Folha de S. Paulo newspaper. ''I said two things: that not only would Brazil be capable of hosting the World Cup, but that it would be the greatest tournament of all time. I still stand by the first part, but I withdraw the second.
''From what I'm seeing, things are not going to happen. We'll have a World Cup, but unfortunately there will be problems, and it's not going to be the best of all time.''
Brazil is hosting the World Cup for the first time since 1950. It has been criticized for overspending and delays in several areas, including transportation infrastructure and stadium construction.
The costs of building or renovating numerous stadiums have increased. As the deadlines near, there are fears that even more money will be needed despite the World Cup budget having already been doubled.
''From what we are hearing from the host cities, they are not being able to comply with the initial plan because when FIFA makes a recommendation to the local organizing committee, it becomes a requirement,'' Romario said.
Government officials acknowledge the delays but say most of the work is on schedule and promise that everything will ready in time.
Romario also said it would be a ''good idea'' for Brazilian soccer federation president Ricardo Teixeira to leave as head of the local organizing committee.
Romario is one of the lawmakers asking Teixeira to explain recent allegations of irregularities in the committee. Teixeira and the federation have denied any wrongdoing.
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