PARIS - Brazil's continuing struggles to keep their World Cup organisation on schedule are a consequence of starting preparations too late, FIFA president Sepp Blatter said on Sunday.
"Brazil has come to realise that they started too late. They are the country who are the most delayed (in terms of World Cup organisation) since I have been at FIFA," Blatter told Swiss newspaper 24 Hours.
"Yet they are the only country who have had such a long time — seven years — to prepare."
The World Cup will be staged from June 12 to July 13, but the build-up has been plagued by construction delays, spiralling costs as well as civil discontent at the money being spent on the tournament as well as the 2016 Rio Olympics.
Last year's Confederations Cup, a dress rehearsal for the World Cup, was plagued by angry demonstrations, but Blatter believes this year's showpiece should pass off relatively peacefully.
"I am an optimist, not a pessimist. Football will be protected. I believe that Brazilians will not attack football directly. This is the sport's home, it's a religion," he said.
"But we know there will be new demonstrations, protests."