RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — Brazil's embattled president has thrown her weight behind national support for a successful World Cup football tournament next year, promising to give visiting teams and fans a generous welcome.
World football's governing body FIFA welcomed her comments, saying in a statement, "we reassert our collaboration with the Brazilian government to deliver a safe Confederations Cup and World Cup which all football fans can enjoy."
Protests that have swept Brazil over the past week have raised media speculation about Brazil hosting the 2014 World Cup.
An eight-nation warm-up tournament, the Confederations Cup, is taking place at the moment. No games have been disrupted, but they have coincided with huge popular demonstrations in Brazilian cities. Some have been protesting against the cost of staging the football tournaments and the 2018 Olympic Games.
President Dilma Rousseff spoke on television on Friday evening, pledging reform to tackle some of the complaints. She said federal money being spent on the World Cup would flow back into the country's coffers.
"With regard to the World Cup, I want to clarify that the federal money spent on the stadiums is in the form of financing that will be duly repaid by the companies and governments that are exploiting these stadiums," she said. "I would never allow these funds to come out of the federal public budget or to damage priority sectors such as health and education."
She said football was ingrained in "our Brazilian soul and our manners."
"Brazil, the only country to have participated in every World Cup and a five-time world champion, has always been very well received everywhere. We must give our friends the same generous welcome we have received from them - with respect, love and joy. This is how we must treat our guests. Football and sport are symbols of peace and peaceful coexistence among peoples," she said.
"Brazil deserves to, and will, host a great World Cup," Rousseff said.