After the drama of July’s Preliminary Draw in Rio de Janeiro, today brings another important landmark on the road to the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil™, with the beginning of the 1000-day countdown to the big kick-off. Sharing in the gathering excitement is FIFA Secretary General Jerome Valcke, who spoke to FIFA.com about the significance of this milestone, the progress being made in Brazil’s preparations, and the work that still lies ahead.
FIFA.com: The milestone of '1000 days to go' to the kick-off of the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil™ on 12 June 2014: what does this signify for you?
Jerome Valcke: One thousand days marks an important milestone for the organisation of the event. The LOC is organising together with the city of Belo Horizonte a commemorative event but it is great to see the enthusiasm in all host cities with many events taking place across the country. We are very pleased by the commitments expressed by the governors and mayors over the last few days in the build-up to this milestone event to assure FIFA that all will be done to make the FIFA World Cup a success.
With such an important milestone reached, how are the preparations coming along?
To be honest there is still a lot of work to be done, which is normal with 1000 days ahead of the kick-off on 12 June 2014. But it is important that we keep in mind that it is even less to the opening match of the FIFA Confederations Cup in 2013. It is essential that we must move quickly now and work closely with the authorities and host cities to make it all happen. And we are not talking about stadiums only, but also about all the infrastructure around such as airport capacities, public transport, level of accommodation to make this FIFA World Cup a memorable experience for teams and fans.
In 2014, the FIFA World Cup returns after 64 years to the country of the five-time champions. What does a FIFA World Cup in Brazil mean to you?
You can simply feel that football is the beating heart of Brazil, a country of joy and celebration, blessed with natural beauty and a booming economy. Brazil is a fantastic country, so diverse and unique, very special. For all of us, this FIFA World Cup will be a very special experience in the country of the five-time world champions. For Brazilians, we know that the ultimate goal is to win the FIFA World Cup for the first time on home soil. That’s a huge expectation the team has to fulfil.