Prezados amigos do futebol,
A year from now, on 30 June 2013, we will be at the final of the FIFA Confederations Cup at the iconic Maracana in Rio de Janeiro, marking the end of a major milestone for all of us - Brazil and FIFA - on the way to the 2014 FIFA World Cup™. On my just-concluded three-day visit in Brazil it was great to witness that the preparations for next year’s Festival of Champions and the FIFA World Cup 12 months later are in full swing, with the stadiums taking shape. And what shapes.
The Estadio Nacional Mane Garrincha in Brasilia in particular will be a real jewel; you can already see and feel this now. It is truly a stadium worth representing the capital of Brazil. Furthermore, it will be a role model for sustainable construction not only for Brazil but worldwide. However, the arenas in Recife and Natal will also be beauties in their own right.
Accompanied by my friends Ronaldo and Bebeto, LOC Board of Administration members, and Romero Britto, our ambassador for the FIFA World Cup, we could feel the incredible excitement and passion of the Brazilians - in particular the thousands of construction workers - every minute during our journey through Recife, Natal and Brasilia. That is also why we will reward the workers involved in the construction of the 12 FIFA World Cup stadiums with tickets. They are working stone by stone to make sure the stadiums are completed on time and are so central to the FIFA World Cup returning to Brazilian shores after 64 years.
There is really no doubt that the hosting of the FIFA World Cup, the world’s biggest single-sporting event, is a huge responsibility. It is an event which demands a lot of energy, enthusiasm, dedication, long hours and thorough planning. This week we have seen the hard work and effort that is invested in the host country. For sure there is still lots of work ahead of us and not a single minute to be lost. But with all the guarantees and assurances given by the political authorities, I am convinced that, together, we will make the FIFA World Cup a great success. It was also great to experience on this visit – for the first time - that the FIFA World Cup is seen as a catalyst for positive change in the host cities and states.
We - and here I mean FIFA, the LOC, the Brazilian government and the host cities and states - must now continue in the pace picked up over the last few weeks to ensure we will provide the best possible conditions not only for the teams and officials, but particularly for the fans. They are, along with the players, the heart and soul of the event. In the now-formed working groups for airports, accommodation and transportation, all efforts are being put into simulating pre- and match day scenarios city by city to find the best solutions, which is undoubtedly challenging given the size of the country and the ambitious match schedule.
The FIFA Confederations Cup will be the overture for a great spectacle in June/July 2014, showcasing the beauty, vibrancy, culture and nature of the people of Brazil. I look forward to my next trip at the end of August to discover more of the host cities.