December 30, 2014

SAO PAULO (AP) Brazil's new sports minister says he is being unfairly criticized because of his lack of background in sports.

After criticism by some of Brazil's top athletes, George Hilton released a statement Tuesday to defend himself against what he called ''unjust'' and ''disloyal'' attacks.

Hilton, an evangelical pastor who describes himself as a radio and television presenter and a theologian, was appointed by President Dilma Rousseff last week to replace Aldo Rebelo, who was in charge of the 2014 World Cup preparations.

Hilton defended his record as a congressman and reiterated his ''committment to improve sports'' at all levels. He said Brazil ''can repeat'' the successful hosting of the World Cup at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

Athletes said Monday that sports ministers were chosen for party political reasons.

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