Moments away from an announcement of unquestionable magnitude, Brazilian eyes stared obdurately at the envelope that FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter was holding. Out, then, came the card, followed by the name the nation that would host the 2014 FIFA World Cup™ - Brazil's bid had been successful.
According to the country's president, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, they were not the only winners. "This is not just a victory for Brazil but a victory for the whole of football," he declared. "I say this because I am convinced that Brazil will stage a great tournament. This has been a dream for us for quite some time. Football is a national passion and Brazilians will be ready to welcome the world."
Romario, who led the Seleção to glory at USA 1994 and was alongside his nation's president at the Home of FIFA in Zurich, was in full agreement. "I'm so happy. It's a great honour to be involved in such a historic moment like this," he enthused. "Of course I'm very happy because it's my country, but I know that Brazil will put on a wonderful tournament that the whole world will enjoy.
"Brazil has many beautiful things, right? The world will get to see all of these beauties. Moreover, Brazil has a wonderful people, a very friendly people, and they will be ready to welcome others from all over the world. Everybody knows the World Cup, has seen how special it is. It's now our turn to host this event and I am sure that it will be a huge success."
Alongside his compatriots, Dunga, Brazil's 1994 FIFA World Cup-winning captain and the side's current head coach, added his weight to the conversation. "Without doubt, Brazil is a great choice to host the World Cup," he said. "We have a rich history that includes five world titles and, organisationally, we have the conditions to stage this World Cup. Brazil is a very receptive country. We have a shape to show the world that Brazil is capable."
A happy burden
Naturally, staging the competition carries a weight of responsibility, but it is a burden that President Lula is happy to assume. "Every country that is granted this honour has an obligation to fulfill and we must now take responsibility for so many things," he said. "We have seven years and we know that Brazil has various aspects to improve upon. We must take care of the development of our stadiums, of infrastructure, of various other things."
"But we gave an example of our capacity as a host nation in the Pan American Games (which took place in Rio de Janeiro earlier this year) and with the players that we have, the creativity that we have, our passion for football and desire to host a great tournament... what country is in a better position to host the World Cup? Brazil has a big responsibility but I am certain that we can fulfill our duty."
"This is obviously a great boost for Brazil as a country. I imagine the lives of Dunga and Romario, boys that were poor, that were born poor, had it not been for football. Football is the most democratic thing on the planet. Through football a kid from the shanty areas can become a player on the Brazilian national team, he could earn lots of money. So, this passion that exists in the soul of each Brazilian, we have to put it into the organization of the World Cup."
Romario also spoke of the social importance of the decision. "It's a great opportunity to show that everybody, regardless of where they were born, where they have come from, is ready to work and has the desire to win in life. I really believe that over the next seven years Brazil will gain a lot from this, that many opportunities will appear.
The last word went to Dunga. "Hosting the World Cup will help Brazil grow in many aspects, in terms of football and especially in terms of being a country. It is also great for Brazilians, who have such passion for football, to have this event in their homeland. Brazil will be ready to put on a great showpiece in 2014."
For now, though, Dunga has a more pressing issue to focus on: naming his squad for the Seleção's forthcoming 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™ qualifiers against Peru and Uruguay. Brazilians do, after all, want a trophy to defend on home soil.