Representatives from FIFA, the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil™ Organising Committee (LOC) and the Brazilian government travelled to Brasilia on Monday, a day after watching the first match to be played at a Brazil 2014 stadium, in Fortaleza.

As the 500-day countdown to the big event got under way, the delegation received an update on the progress of ongoing construction work at the Brazilian capital’s Estadio Nacional. They were also informed of the new timetable setting out preparations for the opening match of the FIFA Confederations Cup Brazil 2013, to be played at the stadium on 15 June.

FIFA.com rounds up what the delegation members had to say to the press following their visit to the stadium. 

FIFA Secretary General Jérôme Valcke
Today is a sad day for Brazil. FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter has written to Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff expressing his sadness at the deaths of so many young people in Rio Grande do Sul.

Today we are 500 days away from the start of the FIFA World Cup. This morning we signed a memorandum of understanding at the Ministry of Communications regarding the challenges we face in the area of telecommunications, a key issue in the staging of the FIFA World Cup.

The most important person I met here today was the engineer Maruska Lima, who has the challenge of delivering the stadium to FIFA in April. It is an amazing stadium, perhaps one of the most beautiful I have ever seen, and I am convinced that when it is finished it will provide the city with one of its most spectacular reminders of 2014.

We still have 500 days ahead of us and we are working hard and very well with the Brazilian government, the state governors and city mayors. Today we are moving on to Salvador and tomorrow to Rio de Janeiro. We are going to carry on working with the six host cities of the FIFA Confederations Cup and I can safely say that everything is on track.

We would have preferred the initial deadline of December 2012 to have been met but the decision to extend it to April was made by the whole group: the Brazilian government, the host cities, FIFA and the LOC. What cannot happen is for that deadline to be extended. Everything has to be ready by then: the pitch, roof, seating, rooms, technology solutions, etc.

LOC Chairman Jose Maria Marin
As the president of the LOC, I would once again like to express our complete solidarity with all the families of the victims of the terrible tragedy in Rio Grande do Sul.

It has been a very profitable visit and I would like to thank the team of Federal District Governor Agnelo Queiroz. We are proud of this magnificent building, which will provide a great legacy for the city of Brasilia.

We are going to carry on working with the six host cities of the FIFA Confederations Cup and I can safely say that everything is on track.

FIFA Secretary General Jérôme Valcke

Brazilian Minister of Sport Aldo Rebelo
We had planned to stage an event today celebrating the start of the 500-day countdown to the FIFA World Cup, but it was cancelled as a mark of respect for the victims of the terrible tragedy in the city of Santa Maria, Rio do Grande do Sul, a tragedy that has affected the whole country and which is in the minds of us all.

Before the trip to the construction site today we had a technical meeting, where we received all the information on the start of the FIFA Confederations Cup here in Brasilia. I can say that from the government’s point of view it was a very productive meeting.

The visit helped us clear up several technical doubts about the progress of various aspects of the construction work, not just with regard to civil engineering work but also the installation of telecommunications systems, TV and safety, which is essential with an event of the magnitude of the FIFA Confederations Cup.

Federal District Governor Agnelo Queiroz
The celebration we had prepared to mark the start of the 500-day countdown to the FIFA World Cup was suspended, a decision we took in order to show support for the families of the tragedy in Rio Grande do Sul. That is our greatest concern at this moment in time.

We did hold an internal technical meeting, going over all the items on the agenda and giving our assurances to the LOC, the minister and FIFA that the handover would be made on time. We are going to present our country’s capital to the world at the match between Brazil and Japan, the opening game of the FIFA Confederations Cup, and that is why we are building a stadium that will do justice to our nation and our people. It will be a sustainable stadium, which will provide every comfort for fans and complete safety but which will also provide the city with a tool for social development after the tournament. We are striving to achieve all these goals and to then stage test events in the build-up to the start of the FIFA Confederations Cup on 15 June, when the stadium will be at full capacity.

We now have 4,000 workers operating in three shifts around the clock. Fifty years on, we are bringing the spirit of entrepreneurship and hope back to our city, with people coming from all over Brazil to build this magnificent stadium, which will form an integral part of our history.