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Blatter, Rousseff brush off World Cup problems

Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff (L) greets FIFA President Sepp Blatter during a visit at the FIFA headquarters in Zurich January 23, 2014.
Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff (L) greets FIFA President Sepp Blatter during a visit at the FIFA headquarters in Zurich January 23, 2014.

By Brian Homewood

ZURICH (Reuters) - Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff brushed off concerns about their troubled World Cup preparations after meeting FIFA's Sepp Blatter on Thursday, reiterating that her country would stage the "Cup of Cups".

Blatter, president of world soccer's governing body, also dismissed worries over Brazil's problems, saying all that was needed were "a few touch ups".

Their meeting at FIFA headquarters came two days after officials in Curitiba, one of the 12 World Cup venues, were given until February 18 to prove they can get their stadium ready or risk exclusion from the tournament.

The Arena da Baixada was supposed to be ready in December but, like five other grounds, it is behind schedule.

Airports and public transportation are also a huge problem as Brazil prepares to host the tournament for the first time since 1950.

Blatter and Rousseff both read statements in which they discussed initiatives to combat racism, promote peace and strengthen women's football in Brazil.

These included, according to Blatter, the release of a bird of peace before the opening ceremony.

However, the pair largely avoided going into detail on the issues regarding World Cup preparations.

"We are prepared," said Rousseff after an hour-long meeting.

"We are going to put on the Cup of Cups, and we are going to do so in the country of football."

"Stadiums are relatively simple things to build," she added. "We are sparing no effort into building stadiums, airports and ports to enable Brazil to welcome visitors with open arms."

Blatter said he was also unruffled.

"Brazil is the country of football and there is no better country than Brazil when talking about football," he said.

"So Brazil is going to organize a very beautiful World Cup, a great World Cup, and confidence reigns.

"And now, there are a few months to go, and there will have to be a few touch ups but this is normal for a World Cup. I am used to World Cups.

"There is no problem," he added. "At the end of the day, everything will be in order, everywhere in Brazil."

Blatter said earlier in January that he could not remember any country having fallen so far behind in their preparations as Brazil. After Rousseff tweeted that Brazil would stage "the Cup of Cups", Blatter backtracked and predicted a successful tournament.

(Reporting by Brian Homewood; editing by Toby Davis)

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