Prezados amigos do futebol,

The final countdown to the FIFA Confederations Cup 2013 – the first one on South American soil - has started. In 225 days, on 15 June 2013 the Festival of Champions will kick-off in Brasilia promising a truly world class feast of football featuring eight worthy champions. The teams include no less than current FIFA World Cup holders Spain, as well as Italy, Uruguay and hosts Brazil (who are making their record seventh consecutive appearance) in the starting blocks alongside continental champions Mexico, Japan and newcomers Tahiti plus the yet to be confirmed African champions.

In the coming week we will confirm with the Local Organising Committee and the Minister of Sports Aldo Rebelo the final host city line-up and announce all the details on the ticket sales at a media event at the Museo do Futebol in São Paulo. It’s also live on FIFA.com. We will find out on 1 December at the Anhembi Exhibition centre who will face whom during the two week tournament.

This is a crucial moment for us organisers because once the ticket sales start it would be very problematic if a venue runs into challenges to be ready to host matches. And here I need to repeat myself when we speak about readiness. We do not mean the day of the tournament kick-off but with enough time to stage at least two proper test events. That is also why we always reiterate that the venues for the major FIFA tournaments need to be ready six months ahead of the first game.

I know this sounds a long time but in reality it’s not. New venues particularly need more time to be fully tested at various events at different capacities. From electrics to crowd management, from stewards to public transport and parking management all processes must be well established to ensure that come the FIFA Confederations Cup next June - when Brazil will be in the spotlight of the world – we will not face any major operational obstacles. We must ensure that fans have an unforgettable experience without any logistical nightmares.

The Confederations Cup itself is an acid test for FIFA and the host country stakeholders as practically every aspect of the preparations will come under close scrutiny. But it would be wrong to call it merely a curtain-raiser for the 2014 FIFA World Cup. The 16 matches represent only a quarter of the FIFA World Cup schedule but its field of first-class participants guarantees a smaller but no less appealing affair. It is no exaggeration to say that this competition has never yet seen a more impressive line-up - with four FIFA World Cup champions representing 12 of the total 19 FIFA World Cup titles. By the way, five of the teams represented also took part in the first FIFA tournament Brazil ever hosted namely the 1950 FIFA World Cup: Italy, Mexico, Spain, Uruguay and Brazil.

The public ticket sale will start on 3 December 2012 via FIFA.com and offers Brazilian football fans a great opportunity to experience fascinating encounters on the pitch and in the stands in a FIFA World Cup atmosphere in hopefully packed stadia throughout the host cities. And I am sure it will further increase the anticipation among football fans around the world to come to Brazil for the 2014 FIFA World Cup.

The FIFA Confederations Cup will breathe life into the Official Slogan “Juntos num só ritmo / All in one rhythm” with a thrilling and passionate, good-natured Festival of Champions. I for sure cannot wait to see the action on the pitch after more than four years of preparations.

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Jérôme Valcke