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Blatter: Valcke to keep WCup preparations role

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SAO PAULO — FIFA President Sepp Blatter said Secretary General Jerome Valcke will remain in charge of 2014 World Cup preparations despite a recent dispute with Brazil's government.

Blatter said on Monday that Valcke will retain all of his FIFA duties, including working with the Brazilian government to organize the tournament.

Valcke's role had been in doubt after his harsh remarks about the country's slow preparations ignited a public spat between the government and football's governing body 17 days ago.

After meeting with Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff on Friday, Blatter said he needed more time to decide whether Valcke would remain FIFA's representative to deal with the government.

"There is no problem between the FIFA president and the FIFA secretary general," Blatter said in statement sent to The Associated Press. "Jerome Valcke is in charge of all of his activities as secretary general, including the preparations for the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil."

Some unsourced reports in Brazilian media had said FIFA told the government that Valcke would be temporarily suspended with Blatter replacing him.

The Brazilian government said they would not immediately comment because they hadn't yet received anything official from FIFA about Valcke's role.

According to FIFA's statutes, only Blatter as president can propose the replacement or dismissal of the secretary general.

Blatter asked to meet with Rousseff in Brazil when apologizing for Valcke's remarks, but said the issue was not discussed in detail with the Brazilian president. He said the matter belonged to FIFA and that he would eventually decide what to do.

Valcke's inspection visit to Brazil last week had been canceled until Blatter met with Rousseff.

The Brazilian government officially accepted Valcke's apology, but officials still preferred to have someone else from FIFA work with the government.

Brazil Sports Minister Aldo Rebelo had labeled Valcke's remarks on March 2 as "unacceptable, offensive and inappropriate." He added that the government had told FIFA it was cutting ties with Valcke, who was no longer welcome in Brazil.

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