Accompanied by Brazilian Minister of Sport Aldo Rebelo and 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil™ Organising Committee (LOC) Management Board member Ronaldo, FIFA Secretary General Jérôme Valcke visited the Estadio Mineirao in Belo Horizonte on Wednesday.
Impressed with what he saw, Valcke said the stadium’s preparations for this June’s FIFA Confederations Cup Brazil 2013 were going perfectly. The joint FIFA/Brazil 2014 LOC delegation were making their return to the city only four months after sowing the first grass seeds on the pitch at the Mineirao, which has already hosted three Minas Gerais state championship matches and is now fully operational.
FIFA.com rounds up what the delegation’s members had to say at the press conference that followed their tour of the stadium.
FIFA Secretary General Jérôme Valcke
I’m very happy because we’ve got two stadiums in Brazil where we now have a pitch. My congratulations to Belo Horizonte. It’s great to know that we can now have games here. Some people were critical about procedures at the inaugural match but you’d expect to have some problems. In any case, problems are good because we’ve still got time to put them right. What is seen as something negative by many people, is nothing but a positive for FIFA, though we do express our concerns whenever a stadium is not ready in time to stage test events. Belo Horizonte was perfect, though, and we are happy that several test events have now been organised, which has given us the chance to talk to the people involved to get things right. From what I’ve seen, there won’t be any problems at this stadium during the FIFA Confederations Cup.
On the Football for Hope Forum
We would like to announce today that the Football for Hope Forum will be held here in Belo Horizonte on 26-29 June. The Forum will be opened by the FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter and will be a major event where people from all over the world will reflect on and share their experiences in bringing about social development through football. It needs to be said that football is more than just a game. It is a tool for education and social development. We would like to thank the city council for supporting us and for organising this event, and we know that Belo Horizonte is also making its contribution in the area of football and social development.
On the Mineirao’s operational event plans
The plan presented by the Host City is all in order and the number of test events to be organised is exactly what we requested. We are in total agreement with regard to the stadium usage, testing and organisation for FIFA Confederations Cup, and I can tell you now that some broad smiles appeared on our faces when we saw the stadium.
On who will operate the stadium during competitions
There is what we call a period of exclusive use, when the “keys” are handed over to FIFA and the LOC 15 working days before the start of the event. During this period our operational teams manage the stadium, receiving support from the stadium operator in areas directly related to everyday issues such as maintenance. This is normal procedure and is no different to preparations for previous FIFA World Cups.
Brazilian Minister of Sport Aldo Rebelo
This visit has shown that Belo Horizonte and Minas Gerais have discharged their duties and have done what we expected of them, which was to deliver a rebuilt Mineirao that has retained its original structure. It is, in short, a stadium worthy of the footballing traditions of the state of Minas Gerais and Brazil as a whole. Belo Horizonte is also right on time with the handover schedule for its urban mobility projects, all of which are due for completion in 2013. It just remains for us to thank the government of Minas Gerais and Belo Horizonte City Council for their hard work, which they are undertaking in complete unison and cooperation with the federal government.
Tiago Lacerda, Special FIFA World Cup Secretary for Minas Gerais state
We had a productive meeting in the morning, when we discussed planning issues for the FIFA Confederations Cup. The focus at this stage is entirely on event operations, and the joint FIFA/LOC delegation have had the opportunity to hear about our preparations for the next few months, which include the Brazil-Chile game on 24 April. They also explained operations relating to the stadium and urban mobility. We were delighted to welcome them here and show them that we’ve finished our building work and are now focusing on standard operational procedures, all with a view to being 100-percent ready for the FIFA Confederations Cup.
Marcio Lacerda, Mayor of Belo Horizonte
We are very proud that FIFA has responded so positively to the work the Minas Gerais state government and Belo Horizonte city council have carried out up to now. Obviously we have a lot more work to get through between now and the start of June. There are dozens of projects in progress at city hall and at state-government level. Right now, though, it’s time to express our gratitude to everyone who met their deadlines and budgets on this job, as well as all the stadium workers.
I’m very honoured and happy to be back at the Mineirao and to see such a beautiful stadium, which brings back memories of my time with Cruzeiro at the start of my career. I’ve also played here for Brazil, scoring three goals against the Argentinians. It’s a tremendous privilege to come back here and see that the stadium has been modernised and is now worthy of hosting the FIFA World Cup. It’s a great privilege too for every Brazilian, especially the people of Minas Gerais, who now have the chance to play a part in this story.
On the problems encountered at the Estadio Mineirao’s inaugural match
In the opinion of both FIFA and the LOC the problems that cropped up at the inaugural match are easy to solve. That’s why we always ask Host Cities to meet the deadlines, because it then gives us the time to overcome any obstacles.
On the Brazil team
I’m always very optimistic when it comes to the Brazil team. I’m a fan these days and I hope that we can perform to the very best of our abilities, especially as we’re playing at home in an official competition. I’ll be cheering Brazil on to victory at the FIFA Confederations Cup and the FIFA World Cup in particular, which is the one every Brazilian wants.