Sao Paulo: Brazilian congressmen said on Tuesday that they had reached a deal to vote on a key bill regulating the 2014 World Cup.
Opposition and government leaders said they have agreed to vote on the bill on Wednesday, according to the lower house's official news agency. The deal came after the government agreed on a date to vote on other legislation that had been causing the delay on the World Cup bill.
Hours earlier, the government leader in Congress had said the vote wasn't expected to happen by the end of the month as wanted by FIFA, and that it would likely be delayed until after Easter.
The proposed law, which gives FIFA financial and legal guarantees to organize the event, is still not likely to be sanctioned by the end of March because it still has to go through the senate before reaching President Dilma Rousseff for her signature.
"Prevailed the understanding that it was crucial to vote on the World Cup law as soon as possible so the agreements with FIFA would not be compromised," congressmen Jilmar Tatto said.
Although there was no official deadline on the bill, FIFA Secretary General Jerome Valcke had said he wanted the proposed law sanctioned by the end of March so World Cup preparations could be expedited.
But the government was struggling to gain full support in Congress because of text that authorized the sale of alcohol inside stadiums, currently against the law in Brazil but a FIFA demand because Budweiser is a major World Cup sponsor.
The government said last week that it had reached a deal to advance the bill to the senate, but the agreement fell through because of pressure to vote on a forest law that has been debated for much longer than the World Cup bill. The congressmen said Tuesday that the government agreed to vote on the forestry law by April.
"The World Cup bill has nothing to do with the forest law, and I was happy to see that dialogue and democracy is always the best path," congressman Rose de Freitas said.
Arlindo Chinaglia, the government leader in the lower house, had said that the opposition and part of the government base wanted to wait for the result of the forest law and that he was "working with the notion that the World Cup bill won't be voted this week or the next."
A congressional commission approved the bill a few weeks ago, but voting on the lower house was delayed several times.
Brazil Sports Minister Aldo Rebelo had already said that he didn't expect the bill to be sanctioned by the end of March but was confident to have it approved by the end of April.
In a meeting with FIFA President Sepp Blatter in the nation's capital on March 16, the Brazilian government promised to have the bill passed so it could fulfill all of its commitments made to football's governing body when it accepted to host the tournament in 2007.
The government said it was natural for the vote to take longer than expected because Brazil is a democracy and congressmen have the right and the responsibility to fully debate the issue before approving it.
Rebelo said the government has already reached a deal with congressmen on the bill's sticking point, the sale of alcoholic beverages inside stadiums.
Text which specifically authorized the sale of alcohol is expected to be removed from the bill to expedite its approval, but the proposed law will still contain other articles ensuring that Brazil fulfills the commitments made to FIFA. Football's governing body says Brazil agreed to change its legislation when it was picked as World Cup host.
The bill is controversial in Brazil as critics said the nation is giving too much power to FIFA.