Ronaldo presents Festival of Champions trophy in Madrid
© EFE

With less than two months until the start of the FIFA Confederations Cup in Brazil, the trophy arrived in Spain accompanied by a joint FIFA and Brazilian delegation. Representing the former was FIFA’s Director of Communications & Public Affairs, Walter De Gregorio, while the host nation brought with them former Seleção ace and member of the board of administration of the 2014 FIFA World Cup™ Organising Committee (LOC), Ronaldo, and Brazil’s Deputy Sports Minister, Luis Fernandes. Also present was Fuleco, the Official Mascot of Brazil 2014.

The delegation was welcomed to the headquarters of the Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) by its president and FIFA Executive Committee member Angel Maria Villar Llona, who expressed his delight that Spain would shortly be participating for the second time at the Festival of Champions – and in a country that has given so much to the beautiful game. “Brazil has a footballing soul. It lives and breathes the game, which is why it’s a pleasure for Spain to go to a country that so fully embraces football,” said Villar Llona.

Spain kick off their Brazil 2013 campaign against Uruguay on 16 June and will be going all out to win the only major honour still to elude them. This edition of the tournament, which Brazil will contest as hosts, also features Tahiti, Nigeria, Mexico, Japan and Italy, bringing to four the number of former world champions taking part.

This point was underlined by Deputy Minister Fernandes, who also spoke of the great welcome football fans could expect when visiting his homeland and what being hosts of the FIFA Confederations Cup and the FIFA World Cup meant to Brazil: “There’s a great sense of expectancy in Brazil, and staging these tournaments will serve to drive the country’s development and improve the wellbeing of our people. That’s why we’re so enthusiastic,” he said.

Great expectations and record sales
Walter de Gregorio, who led the Madrid presentation of this, the ninth edition of the FIFA Confederations Cup, pointed out the success Brazil 2013 was already having, with a record 546,000 tickets having been sold with 53 days still to go until the curtain goes up.

The presence of Ronaldo, in his capacity as FIFA Confederations Cup ambassador, caused quite a stir among the attending media, with Villar Llona recalling his successful spells with Barcelona and later Real Madrid. “Ronaldo is global figure, and Spanish football will always be grateful to him for everything he did in our league and on our playing fields,” the RFEF chief said.

For his part, the all-time leading scorer at FIFA World Cup finals, spoke of the importance of the Festival of Champions. “To my mind, the Confederations Cup has always been a significant event. It’s truer than ever this year, given the presence of quality teams like Spain.”

The Seleção legend is looking forward to a special event on 27 April, when the remodelled Maracana re-opens its doors with an exhibition match between the Friends of Ronaldo and the Friends of Bebeto, another Brazil 2013/2014 ambassador.

Before bidding farewell to Madrid, Ronaldo reiterated his invitation to all football fans to come and witness the FIFA Confederations Cup for themselves. “I’m inviting you all to come to Brazil and discover our cities. We’ve been working very hard over the last few years to make sure everything is just perfect,” he concluded.