*Prezados amigos do futebol, *
Over the last few days I had the chance to witness preparations in the 12 host cities for the 20th edition of football’s flagship event. Overall, we are getting there, with the teams on the ground busy applying the final touches. As I said many times, the staging of a FIFA World Cup™ is a collective effort and we will not have a single moment to relax until the opening matches in all 12 cities are played. And what games do we have ahead! Hardly ever has a FIFA World Cup offered so many top class fixtures. This puts extra pressure on all of us and in particular our venue teams as all of them - and sorry if I keep repeating myself - must be perfect.
During the trip I had a chance to catch a glimpse of the growing excitement for the 2014 FIFA World Cup, with streets beginning to be traditionally decorated, and that’s so nice to see. On Wednesday, Australia arrived - the first team to do so - and in the next coming days the other 30 visiting teams and thousands of fans will stream through Brazilian airport terminals, with the World Cup spirit being evident even thousands of feet up in the air.
There's no doubt World Cup fever is starting to grip Brazilians and the millions of fans around the globe - all gearing up for the 64 matches, whether watching the games live in one of the stadia, at one of the FIFA Fan Fests, at home or at one of the many, many public viewing events in Brazil and around the globe. That’s what the FIFA World Cup is about: world-class action on the pitch, celebrations of fans across the globe all united by football and the most coveted trophy in the world. Over the 32 days of the tournament, billions of people will watch the programmes of more than 600 broadcasters around the world. In 2010, the produced hours of reports on the FIFA World Cup equalled the nonstop transmission of one TV station over eight years.
On Sunday the final test will take place at the Arena de Sao Paulo between Corinthians and Botafogo, the moment when we will be able to test all aspects and then make the final adjustments to ensure all will be perfect for the Opening Ceremony and the Opening Match on 12 June. I will not attend the test match as I will leave this to our operational experts; they know better how to assess and what need to be adjusted. The same day in Sao Paulo, the FIFA World Cup Trophy Tour will be completed after a journey of 267 days in 90 countries, with almost half a million Brazilians having seen the trophy in the 27 state capitals.
On Monday, we will officially inaugurate the International Broadcast Centre (IBC) at the Riocentro. It is the major hub for all broadcast media covering the action from the 2014 FIFA World Cup, connecting all 12 venues and ensuring that the images of the event reach all broadcast territories worldwide. As of Tuesday we will be in Sao Paulo for a series of meeting for the FIFA World Cup and naturally for us the 64th FIFA Congress, bringing together the football world represented by our 209 member associations. Busy times ahead.
To conclude, please allow me to highlight just one aspect which really touches me. That participating teams and the millions of fans - who eagerly prepared for months and some even years to make their dream happen: to experience a FIFA World Cup and live in the country of the five times world champions that is well known for its celebrations – will have the time of their life and a memorable experience. The FIFA Confederations Cup provided a taste of what to expect with its incredible ambience in the stadia. Moreover, the 31 visiting teams have earned their tickets to Brazil after a gruelling and long 820-match qualifying campaign. For the 736 players, this represents the ultimate goal - to be able to play at the FIFA World Cup representing their teams, playing proudly for their nations. For many it is a once in a lifetime experience. They deserve the best conditions and a warm reception in the host country, as was expressed very well by Brazil’s President Dilma Rousseff.
Já tem Copa, as you would say in Brazil. The World Cup is here. The world is ready to experience Brazil.
*Até logo *