Prezados amigos do futebol,
All those years I have been coming to Brazil I had been visiting construction sites and been discussing delivery schedules for the stadiums and the infrastructure around the venues. Yesterday was a very special moment for me to return to witness the Maracanã in full operation, seeing that football has again taken centre stage in this football temple. And it was a great match with a fair result, an international derby and a treat for all spectators.
I am very glad to see real modern functional football stadiums ready to host some of the best teams in the world at the Festival of Champions. It was amazing to meet a man like the four-time FIFA World Cup™-winner Mario Zagallo, who had helped remove the scaffolding of the old Maracanã for the 1950 FIFA World Cup, so happy and excited to see the new Maracanã.
The results of the debrief following the Brazil-England match have been very encouraging, with the Local Organising Committee able to learn very useful lessons from the match operation within and outside the perimeters of the stadium. We are definitely on a good footing for the opening match in 12 days in Brasilia and on 16 June in Maracanã. But the FIFA Confederations Cup is again of a bigger scope than a friendly match between these two high-profile teams. More temporary installations will be set up in all six venues from broadcast areas to hospitality, that’s what our operatonal teams are focusing on now. The FIFA Confederations Cup will provide a completely new stadium experience to Brazilians and we understand that for many football fans it is uncommon to have a dedicated seat in the stands. However, this is very important for security reasons but also for the comfort of the spectator.
It is also great to see how much Brazilians are embracing the FIFA Confederations Cup; since Saturday, ticket sales have reopend via FIFA.com/tickets and also over the counter at the ticket centres. The test events at the six FIFA Confederations Cup stadia have already provided a glimpse of what fans can expect in a few days' time. There are still a few tickets to grasp for most matches to watch the champions live from the stands.
But this month we have two major footballing stages - the FIFA Confederations Cup from 15 to 30 June in Brazil – and at the same time 89 qualifying matches taking place over the next few days all over the world, a major yardstick on the way to the 2014 FIFA World Cup™ 12 months from now. In Asia we will welcome the first team to join host Brazil in the 32-team line-up for football’s flagship event. On 12 June we will celebrate the one-year countdown with an event here in Rio de Janeiro.
In the meantime, it will be great to be on ground when the final touches for the Festival of Champions are applied. Our expert teams will soon be arriving from Zurich and all over the world, whether it is the Technical Study Group with icons such as Cafu and Gérard Houllier or the General Coordinators, our venue managers, such as Anthony Baffoé, and naturally the teams starting with Tahiti to on 6 June. Hard work still lies ahead but anticipation is very high among the FIFA and LOC staff. A major tournament in Brazil is simply special.