To clarify doubts about the FIFA Fan Fest, FIFA Marketing Director Thierry Weil held a round table session with journalists on Thursday 20 February in Florianopolis. Here are some of the main excerpts:

Thierry Weil, FIFA Marketing Director:
“Why do we consider staging the FIFA Fan Fest a necessity? Because we believe in it and have experience of how it is a positive initiative. In 2006 and 2010, the FIFA Fan Fests in Germany and South Africa attracted more than 24 million people. It is something the cities offer their residents during the World Cup. The FIFA Fan Fest enables each city to put on 32 days of entertainment, regardless of the number of matches they host. In the past more than 80% of the city dwellers went to the Fan Fest in their hometown. We are pressing hard for this initiative to go ahead because we have seen the positive results on previous occasions.

“The main goal is to offer a place to everyone who loves football but who does not have tickets to watch the games. At the Fan Fests people can watch the matches and do a range of activities as a family. And what’s important is that it is free. It would be easy for us to end arguments and allow the cities to charge an entry fee to cover their costs. But the idea is that it is free of charge so that everybody can go.

“As far as I know, the only city that has stated it does not want to hold a FIFA Fan Fest is Recife. The mayor’s decision took me by surprise. I don’t know what changed. We would like to sit down and discuss the situation with the Recife authorities, provided they are willing to do so. If they think it is a very big investment, we can help them analyse it, putting them in contact with our commercial partners to come up with ideas about how the event can generate revenue. If Recife steadfastly refuses to hold it, something I believe and certainly hope will not happen, then we will have to look at the legal implications.

“We have made an effort to slacken the requirements and we are also supplying all the host cities with the resources needed to hold the fest, such as the giant screens, audio equipment, fencing and bunting.

“When we have all the information we need, we will start marketing the FIFA Fan Fest. We will probably appoint ambassadors to publicise the event and to welcome people to each city. But our efforts will be more focused on disseminating information about transport, access and safety, because the best form of marketing is word of mouth. When a lot of people congregate at a given place, others come along naturally. People enjoy being together, they want to celebrate, even cry together, because that’s what the spirit of football is all about.”