The Local Organising Committee for the FIFA World Cup™, chaired by Eugenio Figueredo, convened on Thursday in Sao Paulo for its last meeting before the start of the tournament. The executives received comprehensive reports on the preparations and expressed their eagerness for the 20th edition of the FIFA World Cup™ to begin, with just seven days to go before the opening match between hosts Brazil and Croatia at the Arena de São Paulo on 12 June. The meeting was also attended by Brazil’s Sports Minister Aldo Rebelo.

As a symbol of peace, Brazil and FIFA will dedicate a special moment prior to the kick-off of the opening match. Following the pre-match protocol and the coin toss, players and officials will meet around the centre circle, with one team on each side. Three children, each carrying a dove, will come on to the pitch and move to the middle of the centre circle, where they will release the three doves into the sky. The symbol of peace will mark the official opening of the 2014 FIFA World Cup™.

The huge global excitement is reflected by the unprecedented number of ticket requests, with more than 11 million received to date for about 3.1 million available tickets. To date, a total of 2,961,911 tickets have been sold, including more than 2.2 million directly via FIFA.com to the general public. “For every fan, it is a dream to be able to experience live a FIFA World Cup in the country of the only five-time world champions – never before have we sold so many tickets directly to the general public, and this was important to us. The opening match and the final were even oversubscribed ten times. The long queues of people who turned up at the ticketing centres early yesterday morning to buy World Cup tickets shows the high level of interest that Brazilians and international fans have in the 2014 FIFA World Cup,” says FIFA Secretary General Jérôme Valcke.

Overall, 60% of the tickets were bought by Brazilians and 40% by fans from the rest of the world. After hosts Brazil (1,363,179), the USA leads the international pack with 196,838 tickets, followed by Argentina (61,021), Germany (58,778), England (57,917), Colombia (54,477), Australia (52,289), Chile (38,638), France (34,865) and Mexico (33,694).There are a few tickets left for just 27 of the 64 matches: the opening match, semi-finals and final are sold out. However, fans still on the lookout for tickets should keep checking www.FIFA.com/tickets, as potential resales or unpaid purchases mean that some tickets may go back on offer to the general public.

FIFA is bearing the entire operational costs for staging the 2014 FIFA World Cup™ amounting about USD two billion, with half of this figure (USD one billion) being directly invested in the Brazilian economy through the hiring of local services. This latter figure covers the entire Local Organising Committee budget, team travel and lodging, TV production costs, ticketing operations, accommodation, the IT solution and the overall competitions management, i.e. the entire organisation of the matches, plus refereeing and the marketing operations.

Chile will be the fourth FIFA World Cup™ team to arrive in Brazil tonight, after Australia, Croatia and Iran. The last teams to arrive will be Ghana, Korea Republic and Portugal on 11 June.

The 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil™ will also serve as a benchmark in the development of a new strategy in the fight against doping, with the introduction of player biological profiling including blood and urine samples for the first time at a FIFA World Cup™. Every single player will be tested prior to the competition in addition to the routine anti-doping tests taken during the competition. Read more details in the interview with FIFA’s Chief Medical Officer, Professor Jiri Dvorak, and Martial Saugy, the director of the laboratory in Lausanne in charge of the doping analysis for the tournament, on FIFA.com.

The 20th FIFA World Cup™ in Brazil promises to be a celebration of friendship and passion for the beautiful game. Recent incidents of racism have emphasised the need for concrete action to tackle this scourge of the game head on. The FIFA World Cup™, which will be viewed all over the world, is the ideal platform from which to signal a clear rejection of any form of discrimination. FIFA therefore launched a social media campaign today inviting people around the world to unite against racism by posting messages with the #saynotoracism hashtag.

“As the most popular sport in the world, football is a powerful tool to spread the message that racism has no place in sport, or in society at large. FIFA’s “Say No to Racism” campaign is our commitment to drive racism from the game and to set an example of equality for all to society,” said FIFA President Blatter.