SAO PAULO, (Reuters) – Brazil’s Congress postponed a key World Cup bill again yesterday, a move that is likely to frustrate officials of football’s governing body who say its passage is crucial to preparations for the 2014 World Cup.
The bill, which has been years in the making, provides a legislative framework for the organization of the FIFA World Cup and its curtain raiser, the 2013 Confederations.
It was to have gone before Congress on Wednesday but the ruling party coalition delayed the debate, saying a postponement was preferable to a defeat.
“I don’t want to run the risk of the opposition defeating (us),” said Deputy Henrique Eduardo Alves, one of the coalition’s leaders in the lower house.
The passage of the so-called 2014 Bill has been hugely controversial and much delayed. The main bone of contention surrounds the sale of alcohol inside the 12 stadiums where games will be played.
When it was chosen to host the World Cup in October 2007, Brazil agreed to allow alcohol to be sold in stadiums, even though it banned the sale of booze inside grounds in 2003 in an attempt to stop hooliganism.
One of FIFA’s biggest sponsors is beer maker Budweiser and FIFA demands the host nation allow alcohol to be sold at games.
Another controversial aspect of the bill surrounds cut price match tickets.
Brazilian law allows half-price entry into sports, concerts and other events to students and pensioners. FIFA says extending that law to the World Cup would hit its coffers hard and instead vowed to set aside 300,000 tickets for students, pensioners, and minority groups that include indigenous people and the disabled.
FIFA estimates that 3.3 million tickets will be available for the 64 matches.
Brazil’s slow pace in preparing for the World Cup has irritated FIFA officials and was at the center of executive secretary Jerome Valcke’s falling out with the Brazilian government after he said they needed “a kick up the backside.”