Today marks two years before the kick-off of the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil™ takes place. Qualification is in full swing with over a third of the 820 matches having been played already, while preparations in the Host Country are also taking shape.
FIFA.com spoke to the man in charge of Brazil 2014, Secretary-General Jerome Valcke about his feelings on this milestone.
FIFA.com: More than 80 FIFA World Cup qualifiers have been played over the past couple of days around the globe. Did you manage to follow some of the matches and feel the excitement across the respective continents?
FIFA Secretary General Jerome Valcke: It’s great to see all the action and excitement the FIFA World Cup brings to the fans and the teams in every corner of the world. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to watch all of the action, but I keep myself up-to-date on the stories, results and current standings on our official website, FIFA.com which gives you information about all the action as it happens. There has been quite a lot of action too! More than 950 goals have been scored in the 304 qualifiers so far, that’s an average of just over three per game. It’s great to talk about what’s happening on the pitch, not just the preparations in the Host Country, which are moving forward as well.
FIFA.com: What has been the biggest surprise for you over the last ten days?
Well, it has been great to see Tahiti qualify for the FIFA Confederations Cup in Brazil next year, which means that there is a new face at the tournament. Previously it had only been New Zealand and Australia, until the latter joined the AFC, participating at the Festival of Champions from the Oceania region. This highlights the remarkable progress being made by the so-called ‘smaller nations’ as well as the success of the development work done by each individual member association and FIFA worldwide.
FIFA.com: The race in South America is in full swing, with Chile currently leading the way.
Yes, Chile have played really well so far. Generally speaking the matches are promising a really interesting conclusion to South American qualifying campaign. It’s a great appetiser and advertisement for what is to come in 2014. With Brazil not having to play the qualifiers, it is a good chance for another South American team to grab a place at the FIFA World Cup. You can really feel already the rising anticipation especially among the South American teams who seem almost desperate to take part in the first FIFA World Cup on their own continent for 34 years. Every single team seems to be eager to show the strength of the South American continent on the global footballing landscape.
FIFA.com: The only continent yet to start the 2014 campaign is Europe. What are you expecting there?
The preliminary draw has thrown up some interesting groups in the European zone and we can expect the drama and thrills which only football can bring when they begin from September onwards. At present, UEFA EURO 2012 is taking place which will confirm Europe’s second participant (after world champions Spain) for the FIFA Confederations Cup.
What are the next steps for you personally?
In only a few days, my team and I will be back in Brazil and plan to visit Brasilia and two other cities together with the Ministry of Sports and Ronaldo and Bebeto. While the players are the key protagonists on the field of play, the Host Cities and states are the key players to ensure that the best possible infrastructure is there for the teams, the officials and the millions of fans to have an unforgettable experience in two years time.