Valcke hospitalized in Brazil because of infection

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SAO PAULO (AP) -FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke has been hospitalized in Brazil because of a kidney infection and missed the local World Cup organizing committee board meeting on Thursday.

Football's governing body said Valcke's condition isn't serious but he will need to stay in a Rio de Janeiro hospital for a few days.

Valcke also failed to participate in an event to launch construction work for a Rio hotel that will be used during the 2014 World Cup.

He was replaced at the board meeting by FIFA deputy secretary general Markus Kattner.

"FIFA's secretary general has an infection and, on doctor's advice, is recuperating locally at the hospital here in Rio," Kattner said. "He is in the best hands and just needs two to three days of observation. I can confirm he is OK and there is no reason for concerns."

FIFA communications director Walter de Gregorio said Valcke was upbeat and even joked about the situation.

"As part of the inspection tour, I wanted to see the level of health care in Brazil," Valcke said in a statement read by Gregorio at a news conference.

The press office of the Samaritano hospital said Valcke was admitted on Wednesday night with abdominal pain and received treatment for the infection immediately after undergoing a series of tests. The hospital said Valcke is "responding well" to "intravenous antibiotic" therapy.

Valcke had been in Brazil since Tuesday for a tour of World Cup host cities. He visited Belo Horizonte on Tuesday and Porto Alegre on Wednesday.

The 52-year-old Frenchman is FIFA's top administrator and the person directly responsible for organizing World Cups, which are football's showcase events and FIFA's main source of earnings.

Valcke was in the middle of a controversy this year after making harsh remarks about Brazil's slow World Cup preparations, starting a feud between the host country and the governing body. The Brazilian government said at the time that it would no longer deal with Valcke, but changed its position after he and FIFA President Sepp Blatter publicly apologized.

Valcke on Tuesday expressed his concern over the slow pace of construction at some stadiums which will host next year's Confederations Cup. Belo Horizonte, Rio de Janeiro, Brasilia, Fortaleza, Salvador and Recife were initially selected as host cities, but Salvador and Recife will only participate in the warm-up competition for the World Cup if they show improvement by early November.

Valcke praised the construction work at Mineirao Stadium in Belo Horizonte and at Beira-Rio Stadium in Porto Alegre.

The secretary general is due to visit all 12 host cities by the end of the year. In addition to Belo Horizonte and Porto Alegre, he has already visited Manaus, Cuiaba, Recife, Natal, Brasilia, Salvador and Fortaleza. Sao Paulo, Curitiba and Rio de Janeiro will be next.

Brazil last hosted the World Cup in 1950.

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