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WE WILL BE READY FOR WORLD CUP – BRAZIL’S PRESIDENT

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Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff says her country is ready, on and off the pitch, for the football World Cup which starts on Thursday.

In a TV address, she said “the pessimists” had been defeated by the determination of the Brazilian people.

She rejected criticism of overspending, saying that the tournament would leave a lasting legacy of infrastructure.

Brazil has seen a year of protests against bad governance and perceived excessive spending on the World Cup.

Metro strikes are also threatening to disrupt the opening game in Sao Paulo and the final in Rio de Janeiro.

The head of the World Cup local organising committee, Ricardo Trade, told the BBC that while a strike would be “a nightmare”, the authorities were prepared and “inside the stadium, it will be a show”.

He insisted that Brazil would deliver.

Speaking less than 48 hours before the start of the tournament, President Rousseff said that visitors would not be taking away infrastructure projects “in their suitcases”, which would instead remain in the country as a benefit for everyone.

She defended the $11bn expenditure on the tournament, calling it a “false dilemma” that World Cup spending somehow diminished investments in health and education.

The budget for these areas between 2010 and 2013 was many times greater than the investment in stadiums, she added.

“Rest assured of this, the World Cup accounts are being meticulously scrutinised by the country’s auditing institutions,” she said.

It follows criticism by local residents who say that many promised development projects have been delayed or never materialised.

The World Cup will kick off on Thursday with a match between the hosts Brazil and Croatia at the Itaquerao stadium, or Arena Corinthians, in the outskirts of Sao Paulo.

However, work is still continuing to prepare the stadium ahead of the opening match.

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