Prezados amigos do futebol,

Sadly we had to say goodbye last week to one of Brazil’s football greats: Gilmar dos Santos Neves, a truly iconic goalkeeper. Few in Brazil will forget his contribution to the 1958 and 1962 FIFA World Cups™, when Brazil grasped the first two of their five world titles. He will be remembered forever by the football community and live on in the history books of football’s flagship event.

Returning to the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil™, qualifying is approaching a dramatic conclusion in all six confederations, with 85 preliminary games taking place between 6 and 12 September. By 20 November, we will know the final 32-team line-up. Exciting moments are guaranteed across all continents with 27 spots still open, promising days full of action. Meanwhile, hosts Brazil will on Saturday - Brazil’s Independence Day – line up in Brasilia against already-qualified Australia, for whom this will be their first game on Brazilian soil.

On the operational side we are heading in the right directions, not only for the FIFA World Cup itself but also with a view beyond 2014. Recently, I read in the Brazilian media comments that FIFA is only interested in the stadia. There is no doubt that without the stadia we would not be able to stage the tournament and, as such, it is naturally important for us they are finalised on time. But a competition on of the scale of a FIFA World Cup could not be organised with a stadium alone. In order to guarantee that fans, teams and media will have a great experience, it requires public transport, airports and accommodation. For FIFA, it is also important to ensure that the impacts of the staging of a major event on the environment are minimised, and that the socio-economic benefits are maximised.

Over recent months, FIFA and the LOC have teamed up with experts to estimate the carbon footprint of the FIFA Confederations Cup and the 2014 FIFA World Cup. The calculation shows that the two events are expected to generate just over 2.7 million tCO2e. Transportation alone (international and local) accounts for 80.1 per cent of the carbon footprint. FIFA and the LOC will compensate for their emissions through verified carbon offsetting projects and also encourage our stakeholders to lower their carbon footprint.

In an effort to improve the sustainability of the World Cup arenas, FIFA and the LOC together with an experienced Brazilian training provider launched the first training course for all 12 stadium operators last August in Curitiba. It will be continued in two more venues in November 2013 and February 2014. The objective is to strengthen the participants’ knowledge of sustainable operations at football stadiums and other sports facilities.

Again in Curitiba, the pilot of the ‘11 for Health’ programme will be rolled out in a Brazilian school with the aim of being a part of the educational curriculum by the end of 2014 and continuing long after the final whistle is blown on 13 July 2014.

Meanwhile, the preparatory work is continuing at full pace. On my recent tour together with Ronaldo, Bebeto and the Minister of Sports, Aldo Rebelo, we witnessed the commitment by the host cities and states but moreover by the people in Curitiba, Sao Paulo and Manaus in our joint mission to deliver an outstanding FIFA World Cup in 2014.

After nearly three weeks, ticket orders are coming along impressively, with more than 3.6 million applications received so far and almost half a million ticket requests for the final at Maracanã - despite the stadium having a capacity of approximately 73,000. So far Germany holds the record with more than 8 million requests in the first sales phase but Brazil is on track to surpass this. Football fans, particularly Brazilians, have the best chance to be successful in the ticket sale during this first sales phase before supporters from abroad begin looking for tickets as their teams qualify. So far only international fans account for just 18 per cent of applications, but that will surely change once more teams secure their slot for Brazil. Supporters in the host cities now have the best chance not to miss out on the matches, especially if they focus on matches others than the opening match, the Final and games involving Brazil, all of which are naturally the most sought after at this stage.

In the meantime, football fans can also secure their spot in our line-up by signing up as volunteers for the FIFA World Cup next year. On 9 September, registration is reopening on FIFA.com to allow everybody to become part of FIFA World Cup history. I wish both the volunteer applicants and those purchasing tickets the best of luck.

In ten months’ time, the FIFA World Cup will have concluded in Brazil. However, looking back to Germany and South Africa, I ask myself what story Brazil will tell the world after hosting the biggest sporting event on the planet. A FIFA World Cup is never the final destination in a country´s journey but an accelerator and a window of opportunity to showcase the best of a country and its people.

I look forward to being back in the second week of October, this time to visit Cuiaba and Porto Alegre.

Até logo

Jérôme Valcke