Prezados amigos do futebol,
Having seen the astounding pictures I was really sorry I was unable to be present at the re-opening of the Maracanã last Saturday, especially as Bebeto and Ronaldo and all the former players provided the construction workers and their families with a real reward. I am very excited to return to this iconic arena on 15 May on my next visit to Brazil. What a positive difference to the images we saw only a few weeks ago.
With the FIFA Confederations Cup around the corner, preparations for the tournament are reaching fever-pitch. And not only is our anticipation high, but this is also true among Brazilians too. The latest reasearch data from March 2013 of a survey conducted in all host cities shows that 87 per cent of the general public are aware of the Festival of champions and 78 per cent are looking forward to the kick-off on 15 June in Brasilia.
With the matches coming closer every day the fans are eager to collect the physical tickets to each of the games. This moment will come on 29 May when the venue ticket centres will open their doors in the six host cities. The precise locations and opening hours will be published on 6 May on FIFA.com.
Five of the six stadia hosting the FIFA Confederations Cup are now fully operational. The various pre-events were clearly important to help the Local Organising Committee and the host cities fine-tune the operational plans, including public transport, crowd management and services for the fans within the stadiums.
The only stadium not yet completed is Brasilia but encouraging news has also reached me from the Brazilian capital following this week’s latest monitoring visit, with pictures of the pitch, and the seats installed. The venue hosting the opening match on 15 June is taking shape and will host the first test event on 18 May. This is very late, but essential. Together with Bebeto, Ronaldo and the Minister of Sports we will visit the Estadio Nacional Mane Garrincha on 14 May 2013 – a venue named after one of Brazil’s greatest FIFA World Cup legends. His incredible performances in 1958 and 1962 are unforgettable moments for any football fan of a certain generation!
The set-up of temporary event-related facilities such as the stadium media centres, media tribunes, hospitality areas, and ticketing and accreditation centres has also now started in all venues other than Brasilia. With a joint effort by all parties, we will be in in time, but naturally with some compromises in terms of delivery – something we cannot allow for the FIFA World Cup. That’s why I repeat again – delivery of the remaining FIFA World Cup cities is firm: December 2013.
The FIFA Confederations Cup 2013 may have dawned, but preparations for the 2014 FIFA World Cup must continue apace. Natal will be the first non-FIFA Connfederations Cup city destination on this year’s host city tour on 13 May.
‘On-pitch’, the referees, just like the teams, have to undergo a thorough qualification process. The 52 referee trios up for selection will convene in Rio de Janeiro from 25-30 May 2013 for a comprehensive preparation seminar. This will be a major milestone in the referees FIFA World Cup project which started in September 2012, with the confirmation of the match officials for the Festival of Champions to be announced on 13 May. The final countdown has begun…