Romario: Only Jesus can help Brazil now

RIO DE JANEIRO - The 2014 World Cup in Brazil, beset by delays in work on stadiums and a dire need for better transport and airports, will not be the best ever, former striker Romario said in an interview published on Monday.

Romario, now a member of Congress, has been a big critic of his country's preparations for football's showpiece tournament despite being part of the Brazilian committee at FIFA headquarters in Zurich when Brazil was named as host.

The former Barcelona striker, a World Cup winner with Brazil in 1994, has called on Brazilian Football Confederation (CBF) president Ricardo Teixeira to clarify corruption allegations made against him.

"Back then, when the cup was handed to Brazil, there was much celebration. I said two things: Brazil not only had the conditions to hold the World Cup but also the best of all time. I hold by the first idea (but) I withdraw the second," he said.

"Because, from what I'm seeing, things aren't going to happen. We'll have the Cup but sadly we'll have problems and it won't be the best," Romario told the daily Folha de Sao Paulo in his office in the capital, Brasilia.

"I'm going to tell you a truth: the gospels say Jesus will return. Only He can ensure Brazil stage the best cup. If he comes down in the next three years, then it will be possible."

Of the 12 stadiums being refurbished or built from scratch, two have yet to get beyond the paperwork, including in Sao Paulo, Brazil's biggest city. This delay has led to FIFA discarding Sao Paulo for the Confederations Cup in 2013.

Romario said the original budget for the venues kept increasing.

"We've been to five venues of the 2014 Cup and we're going to others. There used to be a budget at the beginning of the preparations that has at least doubled. Going by what we heard at the venue cities, they made plans they can't meet," he said.

"FIFA makes a recommendation to the LOC (local organising committee) and the LOC makes it an obligation. The way things are going, the stadiums will reach [a cost of] 15 billion (Brazilian) reais ($9.39 billion) and that's absurd."