Prezados amigos do futebol,

Today is an important day on the way to the 2014 FIFA World Cup as we can potentially welcome another seven further participants to join the already 10 qualified teams in the 32 line-up for Brazil next June/July. The mounting excitement was also reflected in the outstanding result with more than 6.2 million ticket requests received. This really underlines the huge interest in experiencing football’s flagship event live in one of the 12 stadiums across Brazil both by Brazilians and football fans around the world, which was something I could also feel over the last few days in Brazil from where I’ve just returned today. Recent research also showed that 60 million Brazilians are interested in visiting the FIFA Fan Fests which will be set-up in the host cities as the second official venue, providing fans with an authentic unique FIFA World Cup experience.

The worldwide anticipation can be mapped practically daily at the current FIFA World Cup Trophy Tour which is steadily making its way through all 89 countries which have been scheduled this year. Already having visited 11 nations including Honduras, Jamaica, Costa Rica, and Puerto Rico it is currently island hopping on its Caribbean leg, it’s truly amazing to witness the happiness this global symbol of world football brings to the people. To share in their joy, make sure to like the official Facebook page at www.facebook.com/trophytour or follow the tours live photo blogger on twitter at @trophytour.

When I come back to Brazil next time betwee 2-6 December, Costa do Sauipe in Bahia will become the centre of the football world. The Final Draw on 6 December 2013 promises to be a momentous occasion for Brazil and FIFA, another major milestone on the road to the 2014 FIFA World Cup. The coaches and delegations representing all 31 visiting participating countries will gather in Brazil for the first time. This will be an initial get-together of the cast we expect to take centre stage in the festival of world football in Brazil next year.

My dearest wish is for the Final Draw is to reflect the wave of anticipation in Brazil ahead of the FIFA World Cup. I trust it will be a memorable and indeed emotional evening for everyone involved. The Final Draw is the third major organisational challenge for Brazil and FIFA after the Preliminary Draw two years ago in Rio de Janeiro and the FIFA Confederations Cup last June. The show features a live TV programme, broadcast to some 500 million viewers all over the globe.

I am very honoured that this time I will be assisted during the draw when we decide who will face whom by eight football icons representing the eight nations that won the FIFA World Cup to date, namely no lesser than: Alcides Ghiggia representing Uruguay, Sir Geoff Hurst for England, Mario Kempes for Argentina, Lothar Matthäus for Germany, Cafu for Brazil, Fabio Cannavaro for Italy, Fernando Hierro for Spain as well as a star from the 1998 winning team the year when my homecountry France secured the title on home ground. A moment I will never forget, something very unique for any football fan to be part when such history is written.

Brazil has a young, exuberant team with plenty of heart, determined to do everything it can to finish out in front securing their sixth title but moreover the first title on home soil at this unique festival of football – an event that won't be repeated in Brazil for many years. The key preparation will happen from 18-20 February at the Team Workshop when the 32 coaches, their technical teams and their operational teams will convene to discuss all aspects around the 2014 FIFA World Cup to ensure the best preparation for the tournament.

Wherever I am travelling I am asked about Brazil, how they can get tickets and how to best travel there as nobody wants to miss this highlight to visit Brazil: a country that respects and guarantees diversity.
And to ensure that everybody will have a great experience under the best condition there is still quite some work to be done. This will be collective effort by the Local Organising Committee, the host cities and the federal government supported by FIFA working all in one rhythm to prepare the best possible stage. The countdown is on - 244 days to go.

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Jérôme Valcke