Prezados amigos do futebol,
The next few weeks will be an acid test for the host cities, the Local Organising Committee (LOC), the federal government and FIFA on the final lap of preparations for the FIFA Confederations Cup. With a series of test events ahead of the opening match on 15 June in Brasilia. Today, we celebrate the inauguration of the third FIFA Confederations Cup stadium at the Arena Fonte Nova in Salvador. The remaining three venues have been promised by the host cities and their governors to be delivered on 14 April (Recife), 21 April (Brasilia) and 27 April (Maracanã in Rio de Janeiro). We are all working together tirelessly against the clock, to make sure that the facilities will be ready to host a world-class tournament in two months.
The feedback I received from the operational meetings organised by the federal government together with the LOC - in each of the six host cities - was positive; we undoubtedly have the full commitment of everyone involved. For the FIFA Confederations Cup we will make it – it will be a fantastic tournament– but not all operational arrangements will be 100 per cent. It is impossible to expect this to happen in the shortened preparation time - in most cases,less than two months - instead of the scheduled six, due to the compromises we made with the cities.
I want to reiterate: this will be impossible to repeat for the FIFA World Cup™, and has been acknowledged by the federal government and LOC. The deadline for the FIFA World Cup stadiums delivery stands firm as December 2013. There will be no compromise. Organising a FIFA World Cup is an infinitely more complex and demanding job than staging the FIFA Confederations Cup, with only 25% of the number of matches. In 2014 we expect more than half a million international visitors alone, and in total, more than three million spectators flocking to the 12 stadiums. The scale and magnitude of the FIFA World Cup requires a minimum six month operational set-up.
To give a concrete example, ensuring the images of 64 matches will reach nearly half of the world's population, as in 2010, requires technical and infrastructural installations starting no later than January 2014. This is before the logistical arrangements and movements required for the fans, officials and media during the event. All of this this needs to be tested and fine-tuned.
As such, while we are totally focused on the delivery of the FIFA Confederations Cup, we need to keep working full speed on the 2014 infrastructure in parallel. In May, I will visit the first non-Confed Cup stadium in Natal, and the FIFA President will personally travel to all 12 FIFA World Cup host cities in June.
For the participating teams the Confederations Cup serves also as a perfect preparation for the FIFA World Cup a year later. Hosts Brazil lead an all-star cast featuring reigning world and European champions Spain, South American champions Uruguay, European finalists Italy, CONCACAF and Olympic champions Mexico, Asian champions Japan, African champions from earlier this year, Nigeria, and of course Tahiti.What has always made the Festival of Champions particularly exciting has been the unpredictability of the results. Australia in 1997, hosts Japan in 2001 and Cameroon in 2003 all progressed to the final, whilst in 1999, Mexico were crowned champions. The tournament naturally also provides a stage for some of the greatest stars of the world game; the list is too long to mention!
The high anticipation for this mouth-watering field is also reflected in the very encouraging ticket sales, with two thirds already sold in Brazil – the best sales record to date in the history of the FIFA Confederations Cup at a comparable stage. I am sure the Brazilians will offer the participating teams and the millions of spectators watching on television an unforgettable experience, and a flavour of what awaits them next June and July. The Official Slogan “all in one rhythm” encapsulates our hope for the Confederations Cup, combining first-class sport and a joyous coming together of nations.