Prezados amigos do futebol,
The excitement for the FIFA World Cup is reaching a crescendo. The fact that football at its best is coming back to the country where football is lived and breathed every day and every moment, can be now felt in all of FIFA’s six confederations. Qualification is continuing in all four corners of the world as this month the 2014 FIFA World Cup preliminaries finally hit Europe – the last zone to join in. The spotlight of world attention is shining on Brazil as hundreds of millions of fans look forward with great anticipation to world football’s showpiece event in 2014.
So far 390 qualifying matches have been completed with still more than half, 430 matches, yet to be played, until the longest tournament in the world - spanning over 880 days – culminates in the coveted tickets to Brazil for 31 teams. Those teams will carry not only the pride and hopes of their national association, but also those of every footballer in their country, from the youngest child chasing a football in the park, to the most seasoned veteran whose passion for the game has only deepened with the passage of time.
Social media outlets are full of discussions about the thrills and dramas only football and particular the FIFA World Cup can deliver. Our official website FIFA.com registered new records and doubled the number of page views compared to the same period four years ago. The enthusiasm sweeping across the football world will not go unsupported by our joint efforts. That is also why we have decided to create, for the first time, a mandatory rest period from 19 to 25 May 2014 for the selected players participating in the FIFA World Cup. This will hopefully ensure that we will all witness the greatest football extravaganza on the field of play starting 621 days from now.
With every passing second, the clock is ticking down to kick-off at the Opening Match of the 2014 FIFA World Cup on 12 June in Sao Paulo. But the next major milestone is just around the corner with the FIFA Confederations Cup draw on 1 December, also taking place in Sao Paulo. The draw should prompt celebration throughout the whole nation and rouse even greater enthusiasm ahead of the Festival of Champions next June. It is the Host Cities and states which have the crucial task of preparing the essential stage for the big event, particularly in terms of infrastructure and services for the fans. I trust and rely upon their commitment.
The FIFA Confederations Cup is for the whole of Brazil and not just for the cities and stadiums that will host the 16 matches. This week we have been busy working on the finalisation of the ticketing strategy. On 19 October 2012 we will provide ticketing details to all football fans vying eagerly to watch the crème de la crème of world’s football to take part when Brazil welcomes the world.
In the meantime, the Host Cities, the Government, the Local Organising Committee and FIFA are busy with detailed assessments, tight monitoring and match day simulations within various working groups to ensure that adequate infrastructure will be in place to provide a great experience to the fans flocking into and across Brazil.
The FIFA Executive Committee this week acknowledged very positively the achievements made over the last months. The beginning of November will be crucial when we will reconfirm the final number of FIFA Confederations Cup venues. Until then our technical experts will carefully assess and monitor all stadiums hoping to be involved.
The Official Mascot, our Tatu-Bola, will this time join Bebeto and myself to our next host city visits on 16 and 17 October in Belo Horizonte and Porto Alegre. These visits are not only important to personally see the event preparations but to keep on discovering with fascination how the Host Cities use the honour to stimulate investments not only for June/July 2014 but for the decades to come. In the meantime, we will unveil the host cities for Russia 2018 in Moscow on Saturday before heading back on 2014 mission to Brazil a few days later.