Brazil 2014 'best on-field SWC'
Jerome Valcke (AFP)
Sao Paulo - Brazil 2014 may have had organisational glitches, but it is shaping up to be the best on-field Soccer World Cup thanks to the exciting football being played, FIFA general secretary Jerome Valcke said on Tuesday.
"I think it is the best World Cup in terms of the soccer," Valcke said in an interview with Globo television's SporTV cable channel. "It's the World Cup with the most number of goals since 1982."
Even before the 32-nation tournament enters the quarter-final phase this week, more goals have been scored than at the previous World Cup in South Africa in 2010.
Valcke, who complained in 2012 that Brazil needed a "kick up the backside" to speed up preparations of the stadiums, said the World Cup in Brazil has exceeded FIFA's expectations.
"We had some small problems off the football fields, nothing major. We saw some things that were unfinished, but in the final analysis expectations were surpassed," he said.
Valcke did not say whether FIFA has joined a match-fixing investigation instigated by the Cameroon federation after it said on Monday it would look at claims of corruption in their Group A games, especially the 4-0 defeat by Croatia.
Instead, he said the world governing body was concerned with illegal betting in soccer at all levels.
"This exists and it is something we will not be able to eliminate 100 percent," he added.
"What we can do is control legal betting, but it is very difficult to fight what is done under the carpet."
Organisers had been concerned anti-World Cup demonstrations by Brazilians, angered at the cost of hosting the event, would disrupt the games though they have proven unfounded.
Some incidents have worried organisers, such as Chilean fans storming into Rio's Maracana without tickets, while there were clashes between Argentina and Brazil fans in Belo Horizonte.
Valcke said security has been reinforced, particularly with a view to a possible final between the two South American rivals.
One further pleasing aspect, Valcke said, was the record audiences the games have generated in the United States, even though Juergen Klinsmann's team were knocked out in the second round by Belgium on Tuesday.