RIO DE JANEIRO, May 21- FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke took to the pitch Tuesday with Brazilian great Ronaldo in a Rio de Janeiro favela to launch a project promoting sporting opportunities for disadvantaged youths during the World Cup.
Valcke, best known in Brazil for haranguing local World Cup organizers to pay more attention to deadlines, showed a lighter side as he kicked the ball around a small pitch with Brazilian Sports Minister Aldo Rebelo, two-time World Cup winner Ronaldo and a group of children and teens at the “Football for Hope” launch event.
The project is “a unique and global movement program that uses the power of football to achieve sustainable social development,” according to FIFA.
In Brazil, it will see 32 teams from local social programs participate in a tournament in Rio’s Caju favela from July 7 to 10 — just before the World Cup final at Rio’s Maracana stadium on July 13.
“There will be a final in Caju, too, just as important as the one played in the Maracana,” Valcke said.
“We’re not just here to organize a mega-tournament, but also to organize social programs, to show that football can be and is the greatest sport in the world.”