Prezados amigos do futebol,

As we are approaching the end of 2012 I can definitely say that it was a demanding and challenging year. But also a very productive one, with more integration with the government resulting in many important milestones achieved together on the way to 2014. The build-up to any major sporting event is a matter of extreme interest, not only in the host country, but around the world and it is extremely encouraging to see that the organisation of the events in Brazil has now grown into a huge collective undertaking.

It was great to see the opening of the two first stadiums in Fortaleza and Belo Horizonte still this month and also the great strides at the four other FIFA Confederations Cup venues which are now working at full speed to meet the deadline – latest 15 April 2013 - to stage the first test events. Every hour of every day now counts. The final decisive phase has begun, not only for the FIFA Confederations Cup host cities, but for all FIFA World Cup venues. The deadline for the completion of the six non-Confederations Cup stadia is December 2013 but I have no doubt that we will play the 2014 FIFA World Cup in all 12 venues, reflecting the beautiful diversity and rich culture Brazil has to offer.

During our recent stay, we could really feel the wave of anticipation for the FIFA Confederations Cup. For many, the competition is viewed merely as an hors d’oeuvre for the ‘main course’ but the record start to ticket sales has been a testimony to the calibre of teams participating, and the enthusiasm for the tournament by football fans in Brazil and beyond. In the current ticket application phase, currently more than 310,000 requests for tickets have been received, in addition to the 130,000 tickets sold in the pre-sales phase. This is unprecedented for the FIFA Confederations Cup. Until 15 January, supporters will still have the chance to apply for tickets via FIFA.com to join the champions from Brazil, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Spain, Uruguay, Tahiti and the Africa champion live in one of the six beautiful stadiums. And I am sure the atmosphere in the stadia will be superb.

While the host country prepares the stage, across the world, the race for the 31 prestigious spots in the 2014 FIFA World Cup™ are also starting enter the latter stages across all continents. The first team to join hosts Brazil will most likely come from in Asia in March. The qualification process will then culminate in the Final Draw, to be held on 6 December 2013. On that day, the football world’s spotlight will be on Costa do Sauipe, in Bahia. The draw alone is an event with a global TV audience of hundreds of millions of viewers, equivalent to a FIFA World Cup match.

I will be back in Brazil on 27 January when I will personally attend the opening matches at the Castelao in Fortaleza, followed by the 500 days countdown to the FIFA World Cup on 28 January in Brasilia. This will be the moment when we will unveil the last visual icon of the FIFA World Cup – the Official Poster.

Finally, I would like to wish everyone a happy and relaxing holiday season. We can look forward to some fantastic football in June 2013, with packed stadia and a wonderful atmosphere when Brazil welcomes the current champions from each continent to its shores. I hope that many of you will join me there.

Boas festas e até logo

Jérôme Valcke