With just 48 days to go until the 2014 FIFA World Cup BrazilTM finally gets underway, the Local Organising Committee (LOC) Management Board met once again in Rio de Janeiro this Friday to evaluate the final preparations for the tournament.
In the press conference that followed, FIFA Secretary General Jérôme Valcke talked about what was discussed at the meeting and, following another round of visits to the FIFA World Cup stadiums this week, revealed his own impressions of the progress that has been made. Over the last few days Valcke has visited the Arena de Sao Paulo, where the Opening Game of the World Cup between Brazil and Croatia will be held on 12 June, the Arena da Baixada in Curitiba, the Arena Pantanal in Cuiaba and the Estadio Castelao in Fortaleza.
In Fortaleza he visited the site of the FIFA Fan Fest that will be held in the city, something he took the time to mention during the press conference.
“There is a lot of excitement in Fortaleza about the FIFA Fan Fest," Valcke said. "It will be an amazing event, and one that is very important for the World Cup. The FIFA Fan Fest is a great place for people who didn’t manage to get tickets to watch the games, and for those who want to sample the World Cup experience to come and have some fun. A study found that 97 per cent of people who visited the FIFA Fan Fest at Copacabana beach in 2010 really enjoyed the experience.”
LOC CEO Ricardo Trade provided a list of the test events that will be held in Brasilia and in stadiums that were not used in the FIFA Confederations Cup last year. The national capital will be tested again as it hosted only one game during the 2013 tournament.
On Saturday, operations in eight LOC areas - Safety, Competitions, Transport, Volunteers, Sanitation and Waste Management, Spectator Services and Technology - will be tested at the Arena Pantanal in Cuiaba during the Serie B game between Vasco and Luverdense.
Ricardo Trade also talked about how the legacy of Brazil 2014 goes far beyond the construction of 12 modern stadiums: “In addition to the work of the Brazilian government in revitalising public playing fields, the LOC and FIFA have invested in training infrastructure in 73 sporting facilities in Brazil.
"We have provided posts, nets, pitch-care machinery, and other equipment to make sure that the players feel at ease and can train without distraction during the World Cup. But what is most important is that this sporting equipment, and these improvements, will remain as a legacy for the Brazilian people,” Trade said, who also confirmed the names of the two Official Training Centres in each of the 12 host cities.
LOC Management Board member Bebeto spoke about how quickly the World Cup is approaching, and said that today he sees the competition in an entirely different light.
“As a player, I had no idea what was involved in organising a World Cup," he said. "But now I do! As a Brazilian, I’m proud of what we’re achieving. This is a unique opportunity for the country."
Brazilian Minister of Sport Aldo Rebelo and Deputy Sports Minister Luis Fernandes provided the government perspective on the final World Cup preparations. The Ministry of Sport has organised a series of operational meetings between the national, state and municipal authorities directly or indirectly involved in the perparations for the event.
“We’re at the stage where everybody – national and state governments, city councils and the LOC – has to pull together to overcome the last remaining obstacles," Rebelo said. "There is still work to be done in some stadiums and a number of construction projects to be finished. But with hard work everything will be in place for the Opening Game at the Arena de Sao Paulo and for the competition as a whole. We are fulfilling the task that we were set, which is to organise the unforgettable festival of football that the whole world is expecting.”
“In meetings with the host cities we brought together more than 2,000 managers who will be responsible for planning operations in areas such as Technology, Safety and Health, in order to identify points of contact between these individual plans and consolidate them all," Fernandes said. "Now we will undertake a phase of meetings involving cities that did not host games during the Confederations Cup. Our work is nearly done, and we are confident that it will be seen as a success."
Calendar of LOC test events
Cuiaba - 26 April - Luverdense v Vasco - Campeonato Brasileiro - Serie B
Natal - 3 May - America/RN v ABC - Campeonato Brasileiro - Serie B
Cuiaba - 7 May – Mato Grosso Select XI V Olimpia (PAR) - Friendly
Porto Alegre - 10 May - Internacional v Atletico-PR - Campeonato Brasileiro - Serie A
Curitiba - 14/5 - Atletico-PR v (TBC) - Friendly
Sao Paulo - 17 or 18 May - Corinthians v Figueirense - Campeonato Brasileiro - Serie A
Brasilia – 17 May - Goias v Botafogo - Brasileiro Serie A
List of Official Training Centres by host city
Belo Horizonte: SESC Venda Nova / Estadio Independencia
Brasilia: Bezerrao / Centro de Capacitacao Fisica dos Bombeiros (Fire Service fitness centre)
Cuiaba: UFMT / Barra do Pari
Curitiba: Couto Pereira / J. Malucelli
Fortaleza: Estadio Presidente Vargas (PV) / UNIFOR
Manaus: Estadio da Colina / CeT do Coroado
Natal: Frasqueirao / UFRN
Porto Alegre: Arena do Gremio / Estadio Olimpico
Recife: Nautico's Training Centre / Sport's Training Centre
Rio de Janeiro: Estadio de Sao Januário / Estadio Engenhao (secondary pitch)
Salvador: Estadio de Pituacu / Estadio Barradao
Sao Paulo: Estadio do Pacaembu / Palmeiras Training Centre (Academia I)