Prezados amigos do futebol,

Next Thursday, 7 March, we reach the 100-day mark ahead of 15 June’s Opening Match of the FIFA Confederations Cup in Brasilia. Once this landmark is reached, there will be no doubt we have entered the final lap of preparations for the first of our two major tournaments in Brazil; now it is all about operations and implementation.

Although some of the stadiums are still in the final construction phase, the Local Organising Committee (LOC) is beginning to build up its team at the venues. This means that, together with the host cities, it is accelerating the process of preparing the stage to welcome the teams, fans and officials this June.

We are certainly on a very tight schedule with a few of the stadia for the FIFA Confederations Cup, but we trust in the commitment made by the federal government and the governors and mayors responsible that they will fulfil the guarantees they provided. We have also received the dates for the test events taking place at all six stadia in April and May, when the LOC will have the opportunity to support the cities in testing some of the operational aspects of a FIFA World Cup stadium.

Anticipation levels are also high, as we have witnessed a huge interest in tickets for the Festival of Champions. Indeed, significantly more tickets have been sold at this point in time than at the same point prior to the 2005 and 2009 editions.

We have entered the final lap of preparations for the first of our two major tournaments in Brazil; now it is all about operations and implementation.

Jérôme Valcke, FIFA Secretary General.

And while Brazil is busy preparing the stage, national teams around the world are chasing their dream of securing one of the coveted 31 tickets to the country of the five-time FIFA World Cup champions, to thus join the hosts in the line-up for football’s flagship event in 2014. Spanning just three days in March, a total of 114 matches will be played across five regions, including the significant possibility that the Asian Zone will provide the first team to qualify and join Brazil.

This is an exciting time as the tournament draws closer and closer, with these teams carrying not only the hopes and pride of their national associations, but also those of every footballer in their country: from the youngest child chasing a football around in the park to the most seasoned veteran, whose passion for the game has only deepened with the passage of time. Each qualifying match and every team involved plays an essential role in what makes the FIFA World Cup such a unique event – the biggest single sport event. During the qualifiers for the 2010 showpiece, 20 million people flocked to the stadiums, which impressively showcased the appeal of FIFA’s flagship tournament. What is more, we expect that for the 2014 event this number will be surpassed.

So, while football fans around the world experience the thrills and drama only football can create, we will be focusing on making sure that they have the time of their lives during the FIFA Confederations Cup and the FIFA World Cup. It is a huge task and responsibility for the federal government, the host cities, FIFA and the Local Organising Committee, but also a great opportunity to showcase Brazil´s beauty to the world and illustrate its capacity to deliver both on and off the pitch. As a result, this June’s Festival of Champions is certainly much more than a warm-up.

Between Tuesday and Thursday next week I look forward to visiting Recife, Belo Horizonte and Rio de Janeiro, together with Brazil’s Minister of Sports Aldo Rebelo, Ronaldo, Bebeto and Romero Britto.

Até logo!
Jérôme Valcke