With just 77 days to go before kick-off, the management of the Local Organising Committee (LOC) of the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil™ convened on Thursday 27 March, at the Estadio do Maracana, for another of their pre-tournament meetings. Afterwards, representatives from the LOC, FIFA and the federal government talked to the press, while the latest World Cup ticket sales figures were disclosed - with over 2.56 million tickets having now been sold.

At the host venue of the showpiece Final on 13 July, three illustrious Brazilian football icons enjoyed chatting to journalists. Bebeto, Ronaldo and Arthur Antunes Coimbra, better known as Zico - who is the record goalscorer at the Maracana, having hit the net 333 times in the stadium - are all members of the LOC Management Board.

Visibly moved after watching a video of his goals in the 1982 World Cup and hearing kind words from the 2014 World Cup ambassadors, Zico talked about how the Maracana was a second home to him.

“It’s a beautiful, wonderful place to be and it will always carry the same aura, whether new or old," Zico said. "It will always be the Maracana. I hope everybody enjoys it and that our very biggest goal is achieved, that Brazil play just one match here: one in which A Seleção win the world title for this generation of fans to celebrate.”

However, it was not only the footballers who had a taste of the limelight. In a fitting tribute, representatives of the construction staff who helped to build all 12 World Cup venues were applauded. To acknowledge their efforts and the role they played in helping Brazil host the tournament, a total of 50,000 tickets will be distributed among those involved in building the stadia.

LOC to hold test events in seven stadiums
In the press conference, FIFA Secretary General Jérôme Valcke summarised what had been discussed in the LOC meeting this Thursday, and in the operating meetings held during the week in Rio de Janeiro.

“During the week we focused on coming up with solutions regarding the complementary facilities in Porto Alegre and Sao Paulo," Valcke said. "The situation has improved in Porto Alegre and over the next 77 days we will help the city make sure everything is in place."

"We don’t yet have a solution for Sao Paulo, but this should be rectified tomorrow. I’m extremely confident because we have a strong company, Odebrecht, in charge of the work. We are convinced they will deliver the temporary structures.”

To fine-tune the operation at the World Cup stadiums, over the coming weeks the LOC will hold test events at the venues that were not used in last year’s FIFA Confederations Cup and also in Brasilia, which only hosted one match in the tournament.

“The World Cup is almost upon us and we are more and more excited, but there is still plenty to do," LOC CEO Ricardo Trade said. "That’s why these tests are essential. They enable us to assess our operation, make adjustments and guarantee that everything will run smoothly.”

The LOC have scheduled the following matches as test events:

3 April – Arena Amazonia – Resende-Vasco 
26 April – Estadio Nacional – Luverdense-Vasco
3 May – Estadio das Dunas – America/RN-ABC
10 May – Estadio Beira-Rio – Internacional-Atletico-PR
17 May – Arena de Sao Paulo – Corinthians-Figueirense

The test event at the Arena da Baixada, in Curitiba, will be held in May at a date to be arranged.