The sound of the vuvuzelas are still lingering in the air and an atmosphere of togetherness and celebration continues to reign in South Africa, all thanks to a FIFA World Cup™ that has left an indelible mark on the country and its people. Meanwhile, on the other side of the Atlantic, anticipation is already building for what is sure to be an equally joyous and unforgettable 2014 finals on Brazilian soil.
“Are Africa and Brazil really so different?” wondered FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter during 8 July’s launch in Johannesburg of the Official Emblem for Brazil 2014. “Perhaps the drums beat to a slightly different rhythm but the essence is the same: joie de vivre.”
Ricardo Teixeira, President of the Organising Committee (OC) for Brazil 2014, was clearly delighted to be welcoming the FIFA World Cup back to South America, another continent which lives and breathes the beautiful game, following the first finals on African soil. “It’s been interesting to see how every one of us is going back to their country feeling a bit more African after this World Cup,” said Teixeira in praise of the level of organisation and the welcoming atmosphere in South Africa.
“The world should soon start preparing to feel a touch more Brazilian, as a team of 190 million Brazilians will turn the World Cup into the biggest party on the planet. A party packed with joy, music and organisation.”
Staying on the latter subject, the OC President underlined his and his team’s determination to learn from the positives and negatives of past FIFA World Cups, in a bid to ensure even higher standards in the future. “From what I’ve seen as a member of the FIFA Executive Committee and as part of the Organising Committee for recent editions of the World Cup, FIFA is continually revising its concepts and working methods,” said Teixeira.
“Of course FIFA tried to change anything that didn’t go quite right at Korea/Japan 2002 in time for Germany 2006, and did the same between Germany and South Africa 2010. And there’s no doubt we’ll learn from everything that went so well here, as well as ironing out a few things ahead of 2014. We must learn every lesson we possibly can from these finals, both positive and negative, so we can continue everything that was good without making any of the same mistakes.”
Carlos Alberto Parreira, meanwhile, who coached Brazil to victory at USA 1994 and presided over the host nation’s campaign in 2010, highlighted how South Africa had overcome the doubts over their hosting ability that he encountered during his first spell at the Bafana Bafana helm in 2007. “After the years of work that I followed first-hand; the infrastructure, the planning, the government support and the quick decision-making all combined to make the World Cup in South Africa a success,” said the experienced strategist.
“We (Brazil) need to seek advice, bring together experienced people and really work on our teamwork, which will be vital for a continent-sized country like ours. South Africa managed to change the world’s perception of their country. Things improved in their cities, and the finals left a legacy. We’re hoping the same thing happens in Brazil,” added Parreira.
What is more, direct links between South Africa 2010 and Brazil 2014 could already be seen during Sunday’s Final, won by European champions Spain at the Soccer City Stadium. Among the masses of Dutch and Spanish flags, there were a host of yellow-shirted Bafana Bafana fans bearing banners giving thanks for everything the FIFA World Cup has brought to their nation.
Poignantly, however, also visible were a clutch of supporters in the yellow of Brazil, bearing their own banners celebrating the start of the road towards the 2014 finals. So, in football as in life, when one door closes, another one opens.