Report: Brazil World Cup 2014

Defiant Blatter to stand again, defiant Rousseff welcomes world leaders, defiant Croatia faces Brazil

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff  with Fifa chief Sepp Blatter
Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff with Fifa chief Sepp Blatter Reuters/Thomas Hodel

As the World Cup 2014 prepared to kick off, we learned that Blatter isn’t bowing out, DiCaprio’s mate the sheikh’s got a yacht, a bevy of world leaders will join Rousseff in the presidential box and Croatia are playing to win against Brazil.

  • Fifa president Sepp Blatter shows no sign of yielding to the dark side. There are forces that want the 78-year-old to step down as emperor of world football’s governing body. But the Swiss isn’t planning to take a steer from Spain’s King Juan Carlos and hand over the reins to a young prince. If anything he’s been parading his vitality. During the opening ceremony of the Fifa congress in Sao Paulo, Blatter came
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  • over all Seppinho and danced on stage with the Brazilian presenter Fernanda Lima. In fact, I recall him swinging his hips when the official emblem for the 2014 World Cup was unveiled in Johannesburg. Brazil’s then-president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva was also on hand. But he didn’t dance. And he’s no longer president.

  • If the past is troubled, look to the glittering future. Blatter says he’s ready to seek a new term as Fifa's head honcho. "I'm ready to accompany you in the future," he told the Fifa congress in Sao Paulo on the eve of the World Cup. This surge is possible because the congress voted not to consider age-limits on top officials. Blatter got the top job in 1998 and there were boos among the applause as he said that at the age of 78 he’d go for presidential term number five during the election at the Fifa congress in Zurich next May. "My mandate will finish next year ... but my mission is not finished," he said in his closing address. "Together we will build the new Fifa, together we have the foundations to do things." When he won in 2011, Blatter said it would be his last term. But clearly he feels his star is still rising.
  • Other stars are sailing in for Brazil v Croatia. The actor Leonardo DiCaprio will be in town for the opening match between the hosts Brazil and Croatia. But before he watches the game, he’s been hanging out with his chum Sheik Mansour ben Zayed Al-Nahyan on the sheikh’s hot yacht, Topaz. It’s a gem of a barge. One 150 metres long, it’s got a swimming pool, gym, helicopter pad and a cinema.
  • Perhaps revolution is on the way. A couple of dozen world leaders will join Brazilian leader Dilma Rousseff in the presidential box at the Arena Corinthians for the opening match. Russian President Vladimir Putin will watch along with the German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Prince Albert of Monaco has also made the trip. Given all the trouble involving Blatter’s desire to stand for a fifth term as Fifa boss, there might be a few executives trying to buttonhole the UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon.
  • Football isn’t predictable. More than 60,000 people will be inside the Arena Corinthians to watch Brazil against Croatia. The hosts have a marvellous array of talent but it’s still 11 men on the field against another 11. They’ll have to earn their victory. Brazil manager Luis Felipe Scolari said the team ethic is important in the quest for glory. Croatia coach Niko Kovac said his side won’t be on the field to defend; they want the three points, too. They also don’t have the pressure. Strap in. It’s going to be a bumpy ride.

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