The distinct rhythms of the FIFA World Cup™ have sparked the Brazilian city of Cuiaba. FIFA Secretary General Jérôme Valcke, Ronaldo and Luis Fernandes, Executive Secretary of the Ministry of Sports, experienced this phenomenon first-hand during the second stop of their latest venue tour on Wednesday 29 August.

Before the delegation departed for Rio in the early afternoon to conclude the Secretary General’s three-day trip, they were impressed with what they saw in Cuiaba, at the geographical centre of South America. An overall vision of infrastructure and sustainability was on bold display in the city.

From the start of the visit on Wednesday morning - with an award ceremony for the winners of the “Paint the Cup” drawing competition, to the visit at the Arena Pantanal - the delegation was overwhelmed by the way the city and state are using the staging of the FIFA World Cup as an engine to ensure that positive change comes to Cuiaba in 2014 and beyond. The changes are expected in the form of sustainable infrastructure, but also in the social and human development areas as well, like mobilization campaigns and educational programs.

After a meeting with the Governor of Mato Grosso Silval Barbosa, Mayor of Cuiaba, Francisco Galindo, and the State Secretary for the FIFA World Cup, Mauricio Souza Guimaraes, the FIFA Secretary General made a very special announcement for the 18 winners of the state’s FIFA World Cup painting campaign that took place in local primary schools.

One of our goals is to involve kids and the local population in the FIFA World Cup. Football goes beyond the pitch - it's a school and a university.

Brazil legend Ronaldo

“In order to recognise the work of the 98,000 pupils who participated in the competition, we will invite these 18 young artists to one of the FIFA World Cup matches here in Cuiaba, along with a companion of their choice. We will make sure they have an unforgettable experience on the matchday, from the morning until after the final whistle is blown. From a stadium tour to watching the game in the stands, all facets will be covered,” explained the FIFA Secretary General, who congratulated the state of Mato Grosso and the city of Cuiaba for this, and 54 other, dedicated FIFA World Cup projects.

"One of our goals is to involve kids and the local population in the FIFA World Cup. Football goes beyond the pitch - it's a school and a university. I graduated and got a PHD. Everything I have is thanks to football.  Let's make Cuiabá's participation unforgettable," said Ronaldo, a legend of Brazilian football.

After the state palace, the next stop was the Arena Pantanal. Given that the stadium in Cuiaba is directly beside the lush region of Pantanal, it is no surprise that the idea of sustainability has been applied to every detail along the way, with the wood used in the construction coming from certified sources and the waste and rubbish being recycled. Furthermore, the capacity of the multi-purpose facility “O Verdão” can be reduced after the FIFA World Cup to meet the city’s permanent needs. It will live on to host a variety of events, such as shows, exhibitions and trade fairs, while local clubs like Mixto and Operario can also take advantage of the new venue.

“Forthe federal government the FIFA World Cup is not just a sports event but a unique opportunity to further develop the country. It not only allows us investment in infrastructure, but also in human capacity, which goes beyond sport.What we saw today in Cuiaba convinced us that we will a different Cuiaba in2014 because they well invest in all areas. New abilities are stimulated by the World Cup. I agree with the Secretary General that we really have to congratulate the mayor and governor”, concluded Luis Fernandes.