Brazil’s dream of again hosting the FIFA World Cup™ is moving ever closer to fruition. Two years today, on 12 June 2014, the Arena de Sao Paulo will provide the setting for the first world finals match to be played in the country since A Seleção’s much-lamented 2-1 defeat to Uruguay in the final match of the 1950 tournament.
In the last few months, FIFA.com has spoken to some of the great names of the past and present of Brazilian football to gauge their expectations ahead of the second FIFA World Cup to be hosted by a nation that has won the competition five times already. This is what they had to say:
“The world should know that Brazil is working very hard to put on a great FIFA World Cup in 2014. This is the second time that we will welcome the world’s greatest national teams to our country. Fans from every nation can be secure in the knowledge that we will all enjoy a great festival of football here in Brazil, an unforgettable celebration for everyone,” 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Organising Committee (LOC) Chairman Jose Maria Marin.
“With every passing second we can feel the responsibility on our shoulders increasing. We know it’s getting closer and that it’s not a dream, and we want to show over the next two years that we can perform off the pitch too, that we can stage a great FIFA World Cup with a Brazilian flavour to it,” Ronaldo, a FIFA World Cup winner in 1994 and 2002 and now a member of the Brazil 2014 LOC Management Board.
“This is so exciting for me, to think that it’s coming, that there are only two years to go now. Those two years will fly by, and we have to make sure our preparations get better and better. I can’t describe what it means to experience a FIFA World Cup in my country with the support of this passionate nation. We just have to keep on working harder to do our very best,” Bebeto, a FIFA World Cup winner in 1994 and now a member of the Brazil 2014 LOC Management Board.
“I was at the Maracana for that fateful loss to Uruguay. I was a soldier and it was my job to keep people off the pitch. I’ll never forget the silence, the sadness and the disappointment of that defeat in 1950. The time has come to stage the World Cup again and, God willing, to fill the Brazilian people with pride and joy at putting on a beautiful tournament and adding a sixth star to our jersey,” Zagallo, a FIFA World Cup winner as a player in 1958 and 1962, as a coach in 1970, and as a technical director in 1994.
“It’s a great chance for Brazil to show the world that it’s not just a country where great football is played. It’s the ideal place for organising the biggest festival in world sport,” Cafu, a FIFA World Cup winner in 1994 and 2002, the second time as captain.
“Brazil is the perfect setting for a festival of football. That’s not just because we’re five-time world champions but because the people are passionate about the game and the World Cup. Nobody puts on a party like a Brazilian can, and if it’s a football party, then so much the better,” Carlos Alberto Torres, captain of Brazil’s FIFA World Cup-winning side in 1970.
“Brazilians have always attached huge importance to the World Cup. I can clearly remember the reception A Seleção got after we won in 1970. Can you imagine what the Maracana is going to be like if Brazil wins a title there? It’s going to be a great party,” Jairzinho, a FIFA World Cup winner in 1970.
“I’m very happy to be taking part in all of this and at the prospect of participating in a World Cup, even more so because it’s in my home country. All I’m thinking about now is working hard to make that dream come true and play in the World Cup on home soil, and, hopefully, do well for our fans,” Santos and Brazil forward Neymar.
“I need to work really hard to get a place in A Seleção and play in the World Cup in Brazil. The fact is, it would be a dream. I can’t imagine what the country’s going to be like during the month the World Cup is on,” Sao Paulo and Brazil forward Lucas.