FIFA Secretary General Jérôme Valcke and Brazilian icon Ronaldo, in his capacity as LOC Administration Board member, were both impressed with their first host city tour stops in Fortaleza and Salvador today.
“It was simply great what we have experienced today. I have to admit that both Ronaldo and myself have been impressed by the commitment, the level of detail and the excellent integrated planning in both Fortaleza and Salvador for the 2014 FIFA World Cup,” said Valcke. “Their activities are not limited to the FIFA World Cup preparations, but all their plans are conducted in a way to ensure a social, infrastructural and environmental legacy beyond 2014. I have to congratulate both cities for their initiatives”, added the FIFA Secretary General, who praised the warm welcome and strong support by political authorities and locals both on his first visit to Fortaleza and Salvador.
“I have to say it was great to, for once, not talk about this famous bill. It’s good to see what people are organising in Brazil, what work is happening in the cities and states, to see the passion and the anticipation of the people in the cities. This makes me so happy and confident that we will have a great FIFA World Cup in 2014,” said Valcke, who also used the occasion to promise that every construction worker for the 12 stadiums across the country would receive a ticket for one match at the venue he/she has helped to build: “They are working stone by stone to make sure the stadiums are completed on time, and they are an integral part of the successful staging and should be rewarded. In the name of FIFA I promise that we will take care of this together with the LOC.”
“It was great to see the excitement of the workers, this touches me. I want to challenge the construction workers in every stadium that are in construction now, with a team that I will choose. I want to share such a great moment with them. They are putting so much dedication and effort in this project,” added Ronaldo, an icon of Brazilian football in a virtual echo of the Secretary General.
“Today showed that Brazilians can be proud of what they are going to achieve,” Ronaldo went on to add. “I want to thank everybody in both cities and states for the great hospitality, but even more for the professional preparation of our visits. The people in those venues can be proud. And this is my mission for the FIFA World Cup, namely to ensure that irrespective if Brazil will win or not on the pitch – which I naturally hope for – we will impress the foreigners by our organisational skills and by the way we welcome the visitors in Brazil. Fortaleza and Salvador have been a great example on this trip."
The tour began in the morning in Fortaleza where the FIFA and LOC delegation was shown around the soon-to-be completed Convention Centre and the Estadio Castelão by Vice-Governor Domingos Filho, State Secretary for the FIFA World Cup Ferruccio Feitosa and Mayor Luizianne Lins. Outside the stadium the delegation officially launched a countdown clock to the inauguration of the ground scheduled, as per plan, for 30 December 2012. Fortaleza will also host one of the semi-finals of next year’s FIFA Confederations Cup.
“Fortaleza has done a great job so far, they are well on track. Fortaleza is also a good candidate to be the host of the final draw. It has the capacity from the venue, accommodation and infrastructure standpoints. The interest to host this important event, which has a TV audience of a regular FIFA World Cup match, is huge. The competition is naturally big and the decision will be taken during this year by the Organising Committee for the FIFA World Cup based on the LOC recommendation following an on-going comprehensive evaluation.”
Final Draw up for offer
At the media briefing the FIFA Secretary General also stressed the importance that the various official events in the build-up of the 2014 FIFA World Cup should be equally spread across all host cities. In this context he believes that Rio de Janeiro cannot be considered as a Final Draw venue having hosted last year’s preliminary draw.
The tour continued in the afternoon in Salvador, where the delegation from FIFA/LOC was received by governor Jaques Wagner and deputy mayor Edvaldo Brito, and re-joined by the Minister of Sports Aldo Rebelo. Salvador still needs to seek re-confirmation along with Recife in June 2012 as FIFA Confederations Cup venues. “It is a huge challenge to finish this stadium by December 2012, but having met the team today I am confident that if the work is continuing with the same enthusiasm things will be on time, including accommodation and transportation also for the FIFA Confederations Cup. The stadium here in Salvador will be magnificent with all its impressive surroundings,” explained the FIFA Secretary General.
“The government has no doubts in the capacity of Salvador to organise major events, and a great example is the carnival,” mentioned the Sports Minister, who concluded by stressing that “the FIFA World Cup bill is a compromise the country committed to when it was bidding for hosting the event. It is important to note Brasil asked to host this event and at the time we agreed with all the requirements. Our goal was to have the bill approved by end of last year, so in terms of law we are not as ahead as we are in terms of stadiums. We need to move on and fasten up and I am confident that by March we can complete this.”