Grey concrete is slowly giving way to green grass at the Estadio Mineirao, as a delegation formed by representatives from FIFA, the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil™ Organising Committee (LOC) and the Brazilian government saw for themselves when paying a visit to Belo Horizonte on Tuesday.
The delegation was joined by a very special guest, the three-banded armadillo that is the Brazil 2014 mascot, and had the honour of laying the first sods of turf at the totally refurbished stadium, which will host matches at Brazil 2014.
FIFA.com rounds up what the delegation members had to say about the visit.
FIFA Secretary General Jerome Valcke:
It’s great to see a stadium that is nearly ready. That’s the message I want to send out to the other venues. We are happy to see the stadium on the way to being completed. Belo Horizonte is a fine example of integration and hard work, and this partnership between the state and the local prefecture encompasses more than 50 projects that will be rolled out here in Minas Gerais and Belo Horizonte. We have already started laying the pitch for the players, and if Brazil finish top of their group, they could play two games here. The Mineirao is very important for FIFA, as the eyes of the world are going to be on it.
* *Brazilian Minister of Sport Aldo Rebelo:The people of Minas Gerais are known for their modesty, which probably explains why the governor did not mention that this is a state that commands a lot of respect from all Brazilians and which has a great history behind it. Brazil owes the most fertile period of the Baroque Age to Minas Gerais. This capital city was built 115 years ago and has gone on to become one of the largest metropolises in the world. It is home to two of Brazil’s biggest football clubs and boasts one of the most beautiful and modern stadiums in the country. Minas is well ahead with its urban mobility projects, and it’s always a delight to visit the state. It is a place that fills you with confidence and optimism. Obviously at this moment in time there are no stadiums that are yet ready for the FIFA Confederations Cup. We cannot, however, bring completion dates forward. We have schedules in which the stadiums will be ready and that will be the time to complete them.
Antonio Anastasia,Governor ofMinas Gerais
It’s great to be able to say that we are right on schedule for staging the two showpieces of world football. The federal, state and municipal governments are working together hand in hand, and I hope they have been pleased by what they have seen and will come back next year to see the completed stadium, with 64,000 Brazilians cheering in the stands. The Mineirao will be handed over to us on 21 December and we will be laying on a number of events and celebrations when we unveil the stadium to the people.”
Marcio Lacerda,Mayor ofBelo Horizonte
We are very proud to be working with the governor on the prefecture’s transport projects. We’ve presented a series of infrastructure and matchday operations projects, and there are more than 50 of them involving extensive cooperation between the federal, state and municipal governments. By the time the FIFA Confederations Cup comes around we will have the bus and car lanes open, while the BRT (the dedicated, right-of-way, bus-lane system) will soon be ready.
LOC Operations Director Ricardo Trade
It’s been wonderful for me to be welcomed back to the city where I was born and raised. I would like to thank the various levels of government for their harmonious work together. Working with integrated teams has made the job much easier. I would also like to draw attention to the fact the operational schedule has been met. The stadium is coming along very nicely. I was here last month and it’s amazing to see how much work has progressed. We are moving along with our plans and it is great to see the competition coming into view.