Prezados amigos do futebol,

My first journey to Brazil this year was a very emotive one. It was characterized by a dichotomy of feelings of deep sorrow following the tragic incident in Santa Maria and great confidence as we have seen not only stadiums taking shape, but concrete operational plans for accommodating the fans and officials during the events. And the unveiling of the Official Poster which is truly a beautiful abstract art piece which was launched by some of the finest football players Brazil ever produced – the 2014 FIFA World Cup™ ambassadors. A fantastic line-up.

The opening matches in Fortaleza well showcased why it is so important that the facilities stage events before the Festival of Champions because only in event mode you can identify challenges and fix them. Fortaleza did a great job and has set an example for all other cities. I am sorry to miss the opening matches at the Mineirão stadium this weekend, but I am sure it will be another important milestone in our preparations for the FIFA Confederations Cup. And I will be visiting Belo Horizonte at my next trip in March.

My confidence in Brazil is based on the firm reassurance by the governors and mayors to fulfil their commitments that construction at all six FIFA Confederations Cup stadiums will be completed by mid-April to allow at least two proper football test events before the official event period. All of them have fixed the dates for inaugurations and first test matches. The dates are set and must not be moved as the set-up of the temporary installations such as IT and broadcast solution must immediately commence to ensure images will be able to be transmitted worldwide and fans will have a great experience.

This week we also marked 500 days to the opening match of the 2014 FIFA World Cup, this might sound a long time but for an event of such magnitude every day counts. It is impressive to see that the stadiums are taking shape, changing the face of Brazil’s football infrastructure as a legacy beyond the final whistle. Already respected worldwide for the quality of its footballers, staging the FIFA World Cup will also put Brazil in a select club with twelve new or totally refurbished top class arenas.

Our visits also mark the moment to thank the tens of thousands of women and men around the country whose efforts are shaping the host country, particularly the workers who are building the 2014 FIFA World Cup arenas. They do an amazing job, in Salvador I was fascinated by the works on the roof membranes. Our promise was that they all will be witness of the greatest celebration in football, and unforgettable moments in the arenas that they have helped to build or remodel. It was very rewarding to see the smile on their faces when handed over the first symbolic tickets on this trip. They definitely earn it.

I believe we are moving together at the right pace made possible by our fruitful partnership with government and the host cities. I am convinced that through this collective team work we can ensure that this Brazilian edition of the FIFA World Cup will rise up to the expectations of the football world. After all, the FIFA World Cup is finally coming back to the país do futebol.

In this context it is really difficult for me to understand – if you allow this final remark – why with such a fantastic setting in a country that lives and breathes football, and where soon fans will be cheering the best teams in the world, still a few people keep on looking only for negatives, even if there are no negatives. Brazil is a fantastic country, in every sense. I am proud that I am part of organising together with the Brazilians the biggest event on the globe. As always in life you can see the glass of water half empty or half full. It is a question of attitude. The ones who see it half empty, have good chances to miss the moment when the glass is finally filled.

In this sense até logo,

Jérôme Valcke