In case there was any doubt among visitors to the Casa do Brasil Cultural Centre this Tuesday 4 March that they had arrived in an oasis of green and yellow in the middle of Madrid, they were greeted at the doors by Fuleco showing off his capoeira skills. The official mascot of the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil™ was there to welcome guests to an event celebrating the milestone of 100 days to go until the tournament begins. Inside, a press conference was held to discuss the World Cup, which included Executive Secretary of the Ministry of Sport, Luis Fernandes, Brazilian ambassador to Spain, Paulo de Oliveira Campos, Local Organising Committee (LOC) Communications Director, Saint-Clair Milesi, and former players Edmilson, a World Cup winner with Brazil in 2002, and Demetrio Albertini, who today is the Vice-President of the Italian Football Federation.
“Brazil took on an enormous challenge when it agreed to host the World Cup," Fernandes said. "Organising an event like this doesn’t just involve building stadiums, but also means investment in ports and airports, urban mobility infrastructure, IT, electrical energy and other areas, all of which will benefit the country after the tournament. The legacy of the World Cup will mean a better quality of life for the Brazilian people. Brazil is going to surprise and charm people this June and July."
During the event, which included exhibitions of Brazilian art, culture and cuisine, Brazilian ambassador to Spain, Paulo de Oliveira Campos, highlighted the passion for football the two countries share.
“Spain has the same love for football as Brazil," Campos said. "You can see that just by looking at the front page of the newspapers every Monday morning. The World Cup is a great opportunity for our country. And this Cultural Centre will also be open during the World Cup, so that both Brazilian and Spanish fans can experience cup fever here."
LOC Communications Director, Saint-Clair Milesi, recalled the success of the FIFA Confederations Cup 2013. He also mentioned the high demand for tickets for the World Cup, as well as the huge numbers who have enrolled in the tournament’s volunteer program, to show how excited not just Brazilians, but people from all over South America, are about the World Cup, which kicks off on 12 June.
“Everyone wants to watch this World Cup, and everywhere you go people are talking about it being held in Brazil," Milesi said. "There have been almost ten million ticket applications from all over the world, with the majority coming from Brazil. In South America the demand for tickets, and the number of people applying to take part in the volunteer program from countries such as Colombia and Argentina, shows just how much interest there is in the World Cup. But there is still a lot to be done for Brazil to be able to host the tournament as successfully as it did the Confederations Cup."
A member of the Brazil side that won the 2002 FIFA World Cup Korea/Japan, former player Edmilson feels very much at home in Spain, where he played for Real Zaragoza, Villarreal and most notably Barcelona, with whom he won the UEFA Champions League in 2006. As he tried to imagine what the 2014 World Cup will be like, Edmilson compared the experience of being a player in 2002 with what it felt like to be a fan at the Confederations Cup.
“The world is very different today," Edmilson said. "Social media lets you know exactly what is going on in your country. In 2002, we didn’t know what was happening back in Brazil. But we felt the excitement wherever we went, especially in Japan, where there were lots of Brazilians playing for the local teams. Now let’s cheer on Brazil and help the team make the dreams of all Brazilians come true by winning the World Cup once again."
A runner-up with Italy at the 1994 World Cup, Demetrio Albertini was just 19 when the competition was last held in his country. In Madrid with the Italy squad for the friendly against Spain on Wednesday, he talked about what the tournament meant to him and the Italian people back in 1990.
“To host the World Cup in your country is a dream," Albertini said. "It’s an unforgettable feeling to see so many great players up close. It’s a great opportunity to carry out improvements in other areas too, and to welcome visitors who have come to your country hoping to see their team win the tournament. Football is a way of life all over the world, and it will be the same in Brazil in June and July.”