With a little more than a month to go before its official opening, the Arena Pantanal in Cuiaba provided the second stop on the first Host Cities tour of 2014 on Monday.
Headed by FIFA Secretary General Jérôme Valcke, Brazilian Minister of Sport Aldo Rebelo and 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil™ Organising Committee (LOC) Chairman Jose Maria Marin, the delegation received updates on the final phase of construction work, which mainly involves applying the finishing touches to the stadium, the installation of seating and the management of the pitch.
This latest visit was Valcke’s third to the stadium, which the local authorities said would receive its official opening in late February before hosting its inaugural match in the first two weeks of March.
The aim is for other events to take place at the stadium prior to it staging a match at full capacity, which will provide some of the LOC’s operational teams with an opportunity to simulate the procedures to be implemented at the FIFA World Cup.
FIFA.com reveals what the delegation, which also included Brazil 2014 Management Board member Bebeto and Cafu, who captained Brazil to their fifth FIFA World Cup title, had to say following their visit.
FIFA Secretary General Jérôme Valcke
“It’s always a pleasure to come back to Cuiaba because it’s one of the cities that has made the most of the chance to stage the World Cup. We are four months and three weeks away from the event, when thousands of people from around the world will come here. We have received important news on three areas: the fitting of the seats, the pitch and the test events that must be held before the FIFA World Cup. We had a good discussion and there was a good level of understanding. We will continue to monitor the Host City’s work so that all deadlines can be met.
“It was in 2007 that Brazil asked to organise the 2014 World Cup. Soon 31 national teams will be coming here along with thousands of fans and 15,000 journalists. We have to work together with the resources we have to hand.”
Brazil 2014 LOC Chairman Jose Maria Marin
“We believe in the legacy that will be created for the people and for society, and which will underscore the fact that it was a good decision to select Cuiaba as a World Cup Host City. There are many improvements being made for the World Cup and for afterwards. As Brazilians, we are grateful for that.”
Brazilian Minister of Sport Aldo Rebelo
“As I’ve said many times before, I’m an ardent admirer and frequent visitor to this beloved city, and I have never doubted Cuiaba’s ability to do all that has been asked of it. You can see the commitment and the effort that the local authorities and the engineers are putting in. I believe that this city has built the most comprehensive World Cup legacy of all, with the Mario Andreazza Highway, the light-railway network, the airport and other improvements to the road network. The world will now know more about the history, culture and natural beauty of Mato Grosso. We are proud of what this city and state will do for the World Cup.”
Governor of Mato Grosso Silval Barbosa
“It gives me great satisfaction to welcome you here again to our capital city. We are sure that you have seen a very different situation to the last time, three months ago. We have got teams working on every front and we are working with four subcontractors: one taking care of construction work, one working exclusively on the pitch, another with IT and power, and a fourth on the installation of the big screens. All these teams are in the stadium, putting the finishing touches to it.
“One of the biggest areas of concern was the pitch, which will have the eyes of the world on it. And you can be sure that we will get it right. We went for the very best, from the drainage system to the construction of the perfect pitch. We brought in the very best company, both here and at our official training centre, and it has now been 44 days since the first seeds were sown. We estimate that in another 30 days or so we will have a perfect pitch for the first test.
"Every construction project is a priority for us, but at this moment in time, in view of the fact that the biggest show in the world is coming to Mato Grosso, the number-one priority for the whole management team is to meet all the deadlines.”
Mayor of Cuiaba Mauro Mendes
“We are determined to put on a big party and to give a very warm welcome to the eight countries that will come here. It will be a fantastic show here in 2014 and we are ready to represent our country before the millions of people who will also be watching on TV. Today is a chance for us to restate our everyday commitment.”
Cafu, the captain of the Brazil side that won the country’s fifth world title in 2002
“Cuiaba is a wonderful city and construction work is going on in 90 percent of it. My congratulations to the city council and the state government because this legacy is here to stay for everyone. We are talking here today of the need we have to stage one of the best World Cups of all time and Cuiaba is showing how that can be done.”
LOC Management Board member Bebeto
“It’s always a pleasure to come here. I was here three months ago and I can see today how the stadium has become a reality, which is really pleasing for all of us. Cafu mentioned the legacy, which is the most important thing of all. There are construction projects all over Cuiaba, and my congratulations to you for making the most of an event of this importance. This is a beautiful stadium and the people here love their football. The World Cup is going to be a complete success. That’s something I’ve always believed in.
“I was a little bit concerned about the pitch. We are going to keep on top of it because the pitch is the most important thing for players. I played in three World Cups and I always wanted to get a look at the surface whenever I arrived at a stadium. Good pitches help prevent injuries and make the game even more exciting to watch, even on TV.”
The Arena Pantanal will host four group matches at Brazil 2014: Chile-Australia, Russia-Korea Republic, Nigeria-Bosnia and Herzegovina and Japan-Colombia.
After concluding their visit to Cuiaba, the delegation will travel to Curitiba, where they will meet on Tuesday with the Governor of Parana Beto Richa, the city’s mayor Gustavo Fruet, and the Chairman of Clube Atletico-PR Mario Celso Petraglia. Their next stop after Curitiba will be Natal, where they will attend the opening of the Arena das Dunas on Wednesday along with Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff.
Meanwhile, the LOC Management Board will meet in Rio de Janeiro on Thursday, when the names of the artists who will perform the official music of the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil will also be announced.