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FIFA URGES BRAZIL CONGRESS TO QUICKLY PASS WORLD CUP BILL

By NBF News
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BRASILIA (AFP) - Visiting FIFA's general secretary Jerome Valcke called here Monday for quick legislative approval of a bill on Brazil's hosting of the 2014 soccer World Cup.

'There is a time you have to give birth to this law,' Valcke told reporters. 'We are so closer to give birth to this law, the nine months are over, we are ready to bring it out.'

The bill gives FIFA exclusive rights to pictures, sound and other forms of expression linked to the World Cup and slaps penal and financial sanctions for any illegal reproduction.

Valcke was accompanied by the country's sports Minister Aldo Rebelo and by Brazilian football icon Ronaldo, who last year accepted an invitation to become head of the 2014 World Cup organizing committee.

'We also have a strong commitment from the Congress to vote on the 2014 bill in the first part of March,' said Rebelo, who acknowledged that a few points remained to be solved.

'But it will be done,' he pledged. 'I want to reassure everybody of the willingness and commitment of President (Dilma Rousseff) and the government of Brazil to make every effort to make the 2014 FIFA World Cup a success.'

FIFA, keen to prevent sales of tickets on the black market, has agreed to lower prices of admission tickets for students and seniors in line with the World Cup Law.

Discount tickets represent 10 percent of total tickets for the World Cup in a country where the minimum wage is $332 per month.

This week, Valcke is to visit soccer stadiums in the northeastern cities of Fortaleza and Salvador de Bahia - two of the 12 Brazilian cities that will stage World Cup games.

Brazilian authorities are racing to build or renovate the 12 stadiums in time for one of the world's premier sporting events.

On Thursday, Valcke is to meet the local World Cup organizing committee in Rio.

During his Brazilian tour, he was also to confer with members of the government and lawmakers, including former World Cup winner Romario who last week said Brazil will not be '100 percent ready' for the World Cup.

'I think that (Brazil) won't be 100 percent ready. Of the 12 stadiums (that are to stage World Cup events) maybe 10 will be ready,' the retired football star said in his interview with the magazine Istoe.

'As to work on public transportation, none of the cities involved will be able to complete it fully,' said Romario, who is now a lawmaker with Brazil's Socialist Party (PSB).

He also warned that the total cost for staging the World Cup could jump from an estimated $44 billion to $55.5 billion.

Valcke said he planned to return to Brazil in March to assess progress in World Cup preparations.