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Brazil'S 2014 World Cup to be "unforgettable"

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Despite major social unrest during a Confederations Cup which has been a success on the field but hugely disrupted off it, Brazil will meet the even bigger challenge of hosting next year's World Cup, a top official says.

"We will deliver an unforgettable World Cup," Ricardo Trade, executive director of the 2014 World Cup organising committee, said in an interview with the daily O Globo published Saturday.

"There are improvements to make, of course," said Trade, who is also involved with the organisation of the 2016 Rio summer Olympics.

Just as was the case with South Africa, hosts of the 2010 World Cup, Brazil is facing questions about its capacity to welcome a huge sporting jamboree which will dwarf the Confederations event.

Thirty-two teams -- as opposed to eight for the Confederations Cup -- and hundreds of thousands more tourists are expected for next year's mega-event.

The size of the World Cup poses an immense challenge to a restive country of 194 million people undergoing a major infrastructure overhaul.

Hundreds of thousands of angry Brazilians have been questioning why the government is investing $15 billion in the two sporting events when the money would have been better spent on improving the substandard public services.

Yet Trade says the extra 12 months of preparation will allow Brazil to be better prepared.

There will be 12 host cities for the World Cup rather than just six for the Confederations Cup, including several that are racing against the clock to be ready.

Trade cited several areas that need improvement, notably transport and facilities for tourists.

There are complaints that many tourist staff do not possess good English language skills.

"We are going to work on this," said Trade. "Clearly things were easier in South Africa as everybody (there) speaks English," he told o Globo.

"We can do much better in terms of English, but on the other hand there has been much praise for the work of the volunteers and the security personnel," he insisted.

Although the Confederations Cup, which climaxes in a Brazil-Spain final here late Sunday, was played against a backdrop of the country's worst social turmoil in more than 20 years, FIFA president Sepp Blatter described the tournament as the "best ever".

FIFA has been the target of the public ire, amid charges that it is masterminding a multi-billion dollar "circus" which only benefits itself.

But the organization insists it plans to reinvest its revenues in football's grassroots.

That did not stop protesters massing outside Rio's iconic Maracana arena hours before the 2200 GMT kickoff.

"Hospital closures, doctor shortages - and $55 billion for football," read one huge banner at the stadium gate.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130630/brazils-2014-world-cup-be-unforgettable