During his visit to Brazil to see how work is progressing on the stadiums that will host the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil™, FIFA Secretary General Jérôme Valcke met media representatives on Wednesday in Rio de Janeiro to share his impressions on a range of topics.
A short time earlier, FIFA Marketing Director Thierry Weil had also spoken to journalists about initial ticket requests for the tournament.
Below is a summary of the key questions and responses:
Jérôme Valcke, FIFA Secretary General
On the stadiums visited this week
The stadium in Sao Paulo is not a World Cup stadium; it is a Corinthians stadium that is going to host World Cup games. It is a really nice-looking football stadium. You get the feeling that it was all built by someone who was going to actually use the stadium. It was created for football. In Curitiba, from the moment we agreed to leave the retractable roof till after the World Cup, the club accepted and there are no longer any concerns about the delivery timeframe. And transport-wise, Curitiba is excellent at getting people around. In Manaus we already have a schedule with exact dates, and that's important. Four games will be played there. I saw and was dazzled by Bilingual Amazon, a World Cup programme that teaches children English. I am not too bothered when they say that we are only worried about the stadium. Of course, we cannot have a World Cup without a stadium, just like a car will not go without an engine. But we always say that football is not just a game: it is much more than that. There is a series of programmes similar to Bilingual Amazon. Some stadiums are also home to schools, hospitals and clinics. There have been a lot of programmes launched as a direct result of the World Cup. I am not even talking about improvements being made to the cities, I am just talking about things that are directly linked to the stadiums.
On FIFA World Cup games being played in hot conditions
Matches have been held in places much hotter than Manaus. Brazil is a country where, on the same day, it can be zero degrees in Porto Alegre and 25 in Manaus. Decisions over the match calendar were taken under advice from medical experts, who took the competition stages into account. It is possible to play football in Manaus in the June and July heat. Players from France, Spain and Italy play in July and August, which are really hot months. It was over 36 degrees this summer. Most of the players are used to it. When players need to take on water, the referee will have the freedom to interrupt the game two or three times. This still has to be discussed. The referees will have this prerogative, though. The health of players and spectators is our priority.
On the sexual discrimination issue which emerged at the World Athletics Championships in Russia
There are principles in the world of sport when it comes to fighting discrimination and racism. It is extremely important to us. We have requested clarification and will not give up on our battle against discrimination. We must safeguard different opinions, which are the right of every one of us and make our world a better place. We have been working well with Russia. There is no way that FIFA is going to renege on its principles. Do not ask me whether this means that FIFA can threaten to take away the World Cup. It does not. It is a discussion that we are having with the Russian authorities. We are waiting for clarification. We are not going to have discrimination at the World Cup. There is zero tolerance for discrimination, and not just for racism, but anything that might curb a person’s freedoms: political views, sexual orientation, whatever it might be.
Thierry Weil, FIFA Marketing Director
On countries with the most ticket requests
We have not sold any tickets. We have had over 2.3 million requests and, of course, most of these are from Brazil which, I have to say, is natural because Brazilians already know where their team will play most of its games. That is why we have had so many requests. The second country with the most ticket requests is Argentina, who must be thinking about a meeting with Brazil in the final. The United States is third, followed by a long list of countries who do not yet know if their teams are going to make it.
On the most sought-after categories
The most sought-after tickets are definitely from Category 4. The rest is split between the other categories. Just to give you an idea in terms of proportions based on the numbers from yesterday, after seven hours of sales and 1.5 million requests at the time: almost a million for Category 4; 200,000 for Category 1; 130,000 for Category 2; and 260,000 for Category 3.
On buying without knowing the identity of the teams involved
First of all, I would like to thank the Brazilian public for their enormous interest in requesting tickets. Of course, everyone is interested in tickets for Brazil games, as well as for the opening match and the final. I would like to suggest that people apply for tickets before knowing which countries are going to play in their city. When we all know, the rest of the world is going to join the scrum and apply for their tickets. If you live in one of the host cities and want to tell your grandchildren that you were there and watched the FIFA World Cup, you have to request your ticket now, even without knowing which games are going to be there. The advantage of applying now is that when the other 31 countries find out where they are going to play, the games involving their teams are going to be in far higher demand. Others will have to wait for the lottery. If I were from Natal and wanted to watch a game, whichever teams might be playing, I would apply for my ticket now. After the lottery, I would have less chance of getting a ticket. It is just a recommendation, nothing more.