Football: FIFA apologises to Brazil for 'advice' gaffe

RIO DE JANEIRO - FIFA performed an embarrassing U-turn on Saturday and apologised, saying it had withdrawn publicity material for the World Cup in Brazil that poked fun at local customs.

Just weeks after sports merchandiser Adidas pulled from the market two shirts which Brazil viewed as sexist, FIFA has now removed material which depicted Brazilians as unpunctual, impatient and even chaotic.

Having regularly complained to Brazil about the slow pace of construction of stadiums for the June-July World Cup -- six out of 12 missed FIFA's original December 31 deadline -- football's world governing body felt moved to add: "In Brazil, things are largely done last-minute."

FIFA admitted its attempts at humour had backfired.

"The material was light-hearted and at no time was meant to criticise Brazil," a FIFA statement said.

"The objective was to show the laid-back characteristics of the Brazilian people.

"At any rate, we have withdrawn the content from the Internet and apologise if it was interpreted as criticism of the country."

FIFA "advice" for visitors to the World Cup host had offered "10 tips for avoiding any cultural misunderstandings."

They included giving Brazilian friends some leeway when arranging appointments.

"Punctuality is not an exact science in Brazil," was just one observation, which added that "15 minutes is the tolerated norm."

A further comment was that "patiently waiting in line is not in a Brazilian's DNA... Brazilians prefer cultivated chaos."

It is not the first time FIFA has put its foot in it.

FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke caused a storm on a visit to Brazil two years ago when, frustrated at slow progress in preparations, he deemed the country needed a "kick up the backside."