The countdown to 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil™ officially began this Wednesday 12 June. Simultaneous events in the cities of Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo and Brasilia celebrated the unveiling of a clock marking the time remaining to the opening game of Brazil 2014. The instrument in question was manufactured by Hublot, the official timekeeper of the 2014 FIFA World Cup, and designed by the famous Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer, who passed away last December at the age of 104. The Rio event, held on Copacabana beach, was graced by the illustrious presence of three-time FIFA World Cup winner Pele.

“We´re commencing the countdown to the start of a major celebration,” Pele declared. “It´s fantastic to have been given the chance to partake in another World Cup, particularly as I had the privilege of being involved in the five world titles won by Brazil, three of them as a member of the team. Now I just hope Brazil are lucky enough to lift the trophy at home in 2014 as well,” O Rei added.

Alongside Pele at the unveiling of the clock were FIFA Secretary General Jérôme Valcke; the CEO of the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Organising Committee (LOC), Ricardo Trade; the Minister for Sport, Aldo Rebelo; the President of Hublot, Jean-Claude Biver; the Vice Governor of Rio de Janeiro, Luiz Fernando Pezao, and Carlos Ricardo Niemeyer, Oscar Niemeyer’s grandson.

The FIFA Secretary General said the clock would now remind all Brazilians of the time left to the event towards which the country has been working so hard for so long.

“It´s just great to be here and to sense how close we are to an event as special as the FIFA World Cup,” Valcke said, before adding: “This will be the 20th FIFA World Cup, a major milestone for us too, especially as it´s being held in a country with such an enormous love of football. Coincidentally, the only two teams to have qualified for the finals so far, Brazil and Japan, will meet on Saturday in the opening game of the FIFA Confederations Cup Brazil 2013.”

Ricardo Trade praised the efforts of the workers involved in the construction of the six stadiums which have already been opened, and the six still to be completed for Brazil 2014. “We had more than 24,000 dedicated workers assigned to the stadiums. We intend to show the world that we´re good both on and off the pitch. We can hardly wait for the FIFA World Cup and the chance to deliver a first-rate event,” the LOC CEO said.

The Minister for Sport Aldo Rebelo underlined the expectations surrounding Brazil 2014 not only in the host nation, but all over the world, saying: “This is the second FIFA World Cup to be staged in our country and the whole world is hoping Brazil puts on a huge party, a spectacular celebration. This is the effort we´ve been making to welcome the delegations and fans. Football is a universal sport, the most popular on the planet, and the expectation generated by another global tournament in Brazil is enormous because the country is regarded as the spiritual home of football.”

The clock in Rio de Janeiro registering the days, hours, minutes and seconds to the start of Brazil 2014 is located at the crossing between Avenida Atlantica and Avenida Princesa Isabel, one of the city´s most traditional meeting points. The Sao Paulo clock stands in Avenida Brigadeiro Faria Lima, while the Brasilia version can be found close to the TV tower, another of Oscar Niemeyer´s legacies.

“It was an emotional experience unveiling this clock here in Brazil, the spiritual home of football, and in the presence of two legends,” said Jean-Claude Biver. “One of them is Pele, standing right here beside us, and the other, Oscar Niemeyer, is the designer of the clock. I had the pleasure of meeting the architect once and I was enchanted by his cheerful nature, curiosity and desire to keep on learning,” concluded the President of Hublot.