On Thursday 29 January, the second day of his visit to South America, FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter made his way to the Brazilian capital Brasilia to meet with the country's President, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva. Also involved in the meeting were the President of the Brazilian Football Association (CBF), Ricardo Teixeira, and FIFA Secretary General Jerome Valcke, among others. The visit took place during the morning at Planalto Palace, the Brazilian Federal Government's seat of executive power.
"From 2007, when Brazil was chosen as host nation, we started preparing for the 2014 World Cup," said President Da Silva. "We're more than capable of organising this event, over and above the enormous challenge that it entails, and I firmly believe that one can overcome obstacles by using that challenge as motivation. Today's visit by President Blatter is another step that encourages our collective efforts, which will intensify once the host cities have been chosen, given that the organisation will then enjoy the support of federal, state and municipal government.
"The World Cup will not only be a sporting event, but also a great opportunity to show the entire world how Brazil has progressed and how much soul its people have. We will host a World Cup that lives up to the history of the event, I can assure you that," continued Da Silva.
"The only thing that I can't promise is that Brazil are going to win it but, as I'll be ex-President by then, I'll be in the stands cheering the team on as well as showing my happiness that the Brazilian dream of hosting the Cup once more became reality."
The President of world football's governing body, for his part, expressed his satisfaction at the pace of preparations so far. "We had a chat with Ricardo Teixeira, Jerome Valcke and the President Lula Da Silva and the 2014 FIFA World Cup is in a good preparation phase. Besides which, we can confirm that at the next meeting of the FIFA Executive Committee, to be held on 19 and 20 March, the 12 host cities for the tournament will be decided. Originally there were going to be 10, but the CBF asked us once again to increase that number to 12 and we agreed."
Among other issues, Joseph S. Blatter and Da Silva discussed the exodus of young players from Brazilian shores, a subject of the utmost importance to FIFA. "President Da Silva put the issue of very young players leaving for Europe on the table, something that I consider to be a kind of modern slavery, and I'm very glad he did so," said the FIFA President.
Both men agreed on the need for support from all member federations in order to register young players as quickly as possible. "As regards protection of minors, I can say that FIFA decided at its last conference, a decision then approved by the Executive Committee, that there wouldn't be any more transfers involving players under the age of 18. In this way we will avoid 13, 14 or 15-year-old youngsters, enticed by their agents, being separated from their families. It's an important decision that will take some time to be fully applied, but we will ask the FIFA member associations to register all their players, which will give them license to be able to monitor and help them," continued Blatter.
The FIFA President concluded by mentioning the social context of this issue: "If we want to help young people in Brazil, we need help to register players. We will achieve it for the good of Brazilian football. And of course for the good of world football, of which Brazil is an important part."
The next stop on President Blatter's visit to South America was the Paraguayan capital of Asuncion, where he arrived on Thursday afternoon. There, Joseph S. Blatter attended the opening of the 61st edition of the CONMEBOL Regular Congress and the inauguration of the South American Football Museum.