Prezados amigos do futebol,
Filled with great impressions and pleased with the promising outcome, I have just arrived back in Zurich from my five-day trip to Brazil. This was an important step and the perfect way to begin 2012. We managed for the first time to get a true feeling of what is happening at the venues in Brazil, and no longer have to rely only on evaluation reports. All the negative media reports over the last few months nearly had me doubting whether the Brazilians really want to host the FIFA World Cup™ - something even impossible to imagine, I know, because there is for certain only one thing every football fan dreams about experiencing: the Brazilian way of putting on a FIFA World Cup. And, together with Ronaldo and partly the Minister of Sports Aldo Rebelo, we had an amazing time visiting Salvador and Fortaleza for the first time.
Ronaldo, our teams and myself were overwhelmed by the warm welcome and reception from the Brazilian people, the host city and state authorities, along with the beautiful scenery, and diversity of this beautiful country that is Brazil. The passion for football and the huge anticipation for the FIFA World Cup could be felt at every corner - it was great to see this and experience it. It was the best motivation for us to recharge our organisational batteries, seeing the people’s strong belief and efforts to ensure that 2014 will be an unforgettable football festa à Brasileira.
In particular, the construction workers have even reassured Ronaldo and myself that they will work round the clock to make sure they deliver the stadiums on time. And it is exactly people like them who should be rewarded for their hard work in building the foundation for the FIFA World Cup: the playing field. Therefore, it was clear for Ronaldo as a LOC representative and myself, speaking on behalf of FIFA, that we will provide such workers with free tickets to a FIFA World Cup match in the venue in which they helped to build, just as we did for South Africa 2010.
This commitment to stage the best FIFA World Cup ever, the high level of planning and details to ensure not only an integrated and well developed operation for the event but a sustainable social, infrastructural and environment legacy was one of the key lessons of this trip.
And certainly, travelling with a football icon like Ronaldo is something special. He is humble and his presence alone causes people to dream, and that’s actually what makes the FIFA World Cup so special. As a Frenchman, I was so privileged to have witnessed France win the FIFA World Cup title in my home country - a once in a lifetime experience I hope that all Brazilians will enjoy in 2014. To make this dream become a reality is the responsibility of the Seleçao, but what we can ensure together with the LOC and government as a team is that Brazil will definitely be a champion after the final whistle is blown as a perfect organiser, being outstanding both on and off the pitch.
This week we made the first big step in this direction. We - FIFA, the LOC and the government - still have a lot of work ahead, but with the commitment and willingness expressed by the Minister of Sports, the special Commission and the House of Representative I am optimistic that we will close this chapter with the 2014 Bill in March 2012. This is important as there is still a lot to be achieved until we can hopefully say on 13 July 2014 that we have finally made it: FIFA, LOC, the Brazilian government and the Brazilian people have scored the most important goal - a successful 2014 FIFA World Cup, which will open the doors to millions of Brazil-bound tourists, who will benefit from the infrastructure created for the global showpiece. However, before this becomes a reality we must continue at the same pace in which we have started 2012. I am already looking forward to our upcoming visits in Recife, Brasilia and Cuiaba in March with Ronaldo and Pele - two icons for an unforgettable World Cup in the land of football.
Até logo. Abraços