The FIFA World Cup™ Trophy has finally landed on Brazilian soil. On Monday, FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter met the Brazilian head of state Dilma Rousseff in the Palacio do Planalto in Brasilia. In a gesture heavy with historic and symbolic resonance, the actual trophy that will be awarded to the winners of football’s flagship event was handed over by Blatter and Cafu, captain of the Brazil 2002 World Cup winning side.
“I’d already said before coming to Brazil that my first visit to this country would be to meet the President. It is all about respect and good manners,” stated Blatter before the beginning of the ceremony in which President Rousseff lifted the trophy that can only be touched by heads of state and world champions. “My wish, which is shared by more than 200 million of my compatriots, is that on 13 July, 23 more Brazilians will be able to touch this beautiful trophy,” said Rousseff.
Ten days prior to the start of the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, President Dilma Rousseff and the head of world football’s governing body held a private meeting in the Palacio do Planalto, headquarters of the Federal Government, to discuss final preparations ahead of the Opening Match between Brazil and Croatia on 12 June in the Arena de Sao Paulo. After the ceremony, both attended a press conference with, among others, the Minister of Sport Aldo Rebelo. Last January, President Blatter had welcomed the Brazilian head of state to FIFA HQ in Zurich.
More than just a tournament
The common theme amongst FIFA delegates and members of the federal government was confidence in the organisation of the tournament itself and optimism about the opportunity that the World Cup represents for aspects that go far beyond football.
“Brazil is a global power not only in footballing but also economic terms. I’m convinced that this tournament offers the country a chance to promote itself to the entire planet,” stated Blatter. “It is clear that for a period of more than a month the eyes of the world will be on Brazil. So we can say that this will be a World Cup for Brazil but also for the whole world.”
And it is an opportunity that President Rousseff is preparing for in both a responsible and confident fashion. “We’re ready to put on a grand show: the stadia are ready and some have already hosted state or Brazilian championship matches. Our airports are prepared for the extra demand that will be placed on them during this month of football, principally because they’ve been modified to handle the additional traffic that we’re already starting to see. And for those about to visit us, I can assure you all that the security measures we’ve put in place will allow you all to fully enjoy the matches and the many other delights this country has to offer. Brazil is proud of its democracy. It is a country that respects freedom of expression while also respecting the wishes of the majority, who want to be present at the matches, meet like-minded people and commemorate this great occasion.”
For Brazil and for the world
The two Presidents went out of their way to further emphasise the value that the World Cup could have in reinforcing the human values that are the focus of competition. For his part, Joseph S. Blatter announced that prior to the kick-off of the Opening Match in the Arena de Sao Paulo doves would be released as a symbol of peace. He also underlined his desire to see football used as a platform for something much more important.
“I would like to take this opportunity to repeat my hope that, at least during this period, fighting around the world will stop and in its place football will act as a unifying agent between peoples,” said Blatter. “The 20th FIFA World Cup will also offer a stage to fight against discrimination of all kinds, in particular racism, as well as being a chance to promote women’s football.”
And it was exactly this feeling that was engendered in the Brazilian President when she held aloft the FIFA World Cup Trophy, which means so much to so many people around the world. “We would like to host a tournament where football serves as a means of mutual understanding, of dialogue, peace and respect between us, all people and all nations,” said the head of state. “Let’s make this 2014 FIFA World Cup an event to promote respect for diversity and for the rejection of discrimination and racism. Brazil invites everyone to engage in this task.”