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FIFA secretary general apologizes to Brazil

By Marilia Brocchetto, CNN
March 6, 2012 -- Updated 2114 GMT (0514 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: FIFA President Sepp Blatter also sent his own apology to Brazil
  • FIFA's secretary general has been quoted as saying Brazil needs a "kick up the backside"
  • Jerome Valcke says there was a misinterpretation in the translation into Portuguese
  • He repeats concerns about Brazil's progress on hosting the 2014 World Cup

(CNN) -- FIFA Secretary General Jerome Valcke has apologized to Brazil's minister of sports for a "misinterpretation in the translation" of his comment saying the country needs a "kick up the backside" to be ready in time for the 2014 World Cup.

Valcke's letter of apology to Aldo Rebelo came hours after the country had sent official notice to FIFA that it would no longer accept Valcke as liaison.

"We received with astonishment the inappropriate statements by Mr. Jerome Valcke in recent days to the international press. The form and content of statements escaped the patterns of harmonious coexistence between a sovereign country such as Brazil and an international organization, such as FIFA," wrote Rebelo.

Valcke, in his letter Monday, explained that in French, "se donner un coup de pied aux fesses" means "to pick up the pace." Unfortunately, he wrote, the expression had been translated so that in Portuguese it used much "stronger words."

The translation was a literal one.

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"There is certainly an air of concern at FIFA, and as the person who is ultimately responsible for delivery of the FIFA World Cup, I am under quite some pressure," he said. Valcke and a large team of FIFA representatives are due to visit Brazil next week.

FIFA President Sepp Blatter also sent his own apology.

The Sports Ministry said in a news release that it had it received a letter from Blatter on Tuesday.

According the ministry, Blatter said: "My only comment in relation to this issue is to apologize to all of those whose honor and pride were injured, especially the Brazilian government and President Dilma Rousseff."

On Friday, Valcke had once again criticized Brazil's progress, saying the country is more worried about winning the World Cup that preparing for it. FIFA has repeatedly voiced its concern that stadiums and other infrastructure, such as airports, are not being built quickly enough. Among other issues, Brazilian lawmakers have balked at approving the sale of beer at games, which is illegal there.

Valcke stressed that he has no doubt that the 2014 FIFA World Cup will be held in Brazil and that he holds great respect and admiration for the nation.

According to Brazilian state run news agency Agencia Brasil, the Ministry of Sports will decide whether to accept the apology after reviewing Valcke's letter.

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