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Tourists to spend $10 bln during Brazil WCup ‘No compromises for safety in venues’

BRASOLIA, Dec 21, (Agencies): Foreign and Brazilian tourists are expected to spend $10.4 billion during next year’s World Cup, more than the public funds invested for staging the event, the Brazilian tourism board said Friday. “These are important resources which fuel economic sectors of all Brazilian regions, from aviation to the informal economy,” said Flavio Dino, president of state tourism board Embratur, in a statement titled “Mega-events are worth it.” He recalled that the Confederations Cup, a 15-day dry run last June for the World Cup, injected $311 million in the Brazilian economy. It was staged in the middle of massive nation-wide street protests in which hundreds of thousands of Brazilians demanded a better quality of life, an end to corruption and railed against the high cost of staging the World Cup and the 2016 Rio Summer Olympics.

A month later, World Youth Day, a major Catholic youth fest held in the presence of Pope Francis in Rio, injected another $502 million into the economy. And Dino said that even if revenues do not cover investments for major events, it was important to note that one out of three reals invested by the federal government for the World Cup is disbursed to upgrade urban mobility projects in major cities. He added that apart from immediate gains, events like the World Cup and World Youth Day give Brazil a visibility that would normally take “decades” to obtain. “Some see major events as gobbling up resources that could be allocated to public services. I prefer to see them as a big gamble on a new development project which obviously encompasses an urgent modernization of public services,” the Embratur chief said.

FIFA Secretary General Jerome Valcke says that no compromises have been made on workers’ safety as organizers try to overcome construction delays at World Cup stadiums in Brazil. After the deaths of three workers in under a month, Valcke says safety “is always top priority for workers, players and fans equally.” A worker fell 115 feet (35 meters) to his death in the jungle city of Manaus last Saturday, and in late November two workers were killed when a crane collapsed in the stadium that will host the World Cup opener in Sao Paulo on June 12. Valcke said Friday in his monthly column on FIFA’s web site that finishing touches at all 12 World Cup venues “are crucial, and they need to be added in a number of areas.”

After missing out on the World Cup, Sweden forward Zlatan Ibrahimovic doesn’t consider the tournament to be compulsory viewing — at least for him. Sweden was eliminated in the playoffs last month by Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portugal, leaving 32-year-old Ibrahimovic with some time off after Paris Saint-Germain’s season. “For sure I will see some games, but it’s not like I will run home and sit in front of the television,” he said Friday during a telephone conference call to promote PSG’s friendly against Real Madrid on Jan. 2 in Doha, Qatar.

Sweden lost 3-2 at home to Portugal for a 4-2 aggregate defeat. Ibrahimovic said it would be a “struggle to watch games” during the tournament in Brazil. “I’m suffering. It goes away, slowly, slowly,” he said. “Every game I am playing and trying to bring out this anger in a positive way. “I think that disappointment will come back in the World Cup,” he added. Repeatedly referring to himself as “Zlatan” in the third person, Ibrahimovic said media had portrayed him as “arrogant” and “cocky” with a big ego. “If you have a big ego, you don’t win 20 trophies,” said Ibrahimovic, who has won league titles with Ajax, Inter Milan, Barcelona, AC Milan and PSG. “This is something media makes up and you have to live with. “I try to be myself,” he said, going on to add that he can be testy during interviews. “When you ask a stupid question, you get a stupid answer. That’s the way it is.”

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