Prezados amigos do futebol,
The build-up for the Final Draw on 6 December 2013 is growing by the day. In just over a month, we will offer football fans worldwide the full menu for the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil™ as the match schedule is completed with the names of the participating teams - the road to glory will be laid out and historic encounters given a venue and time to take place. Expectation is high, not only for the host country but for all 20 nations to have already secured a place, as well as the 11 yet to be determined from the remaining 17 qualifiers.
The Final Draw is much more than a FIFA event. It is a global showcasing opportunity for Brazil, Bahia, Salvador and Costa do Sauipe, the iconic venue for the upcoming show. This is the final preview, promotion and curtain-raiser for the FIFA World Cup, which kicks off on 12 June.
Staging a FIFA World Cup is a partnership between the host country and FIFA. To organise the Final Draw, we are investing more than 20 million reais (approximately $8m) - in the production of the globally televised show, performing artists, technological infrastructure so that some thousand media representatives can beam Brazil's story to the world, private security and the event setting. Bahia and the Costa do Sauipe provide the necessary venue. Media exposure from the Final Draw is a unique promotional opportunity for the host country. The previous Final Draw host, the city of Cape Town, received media-coverage expenses of no less than $6.1m during the seven days around the Final Draw in 2009, as well as great international exposure with hundreds of millions of spectators on TV sets around the world.
The venue in Costa do Sauipe is a hive of activity and excitement. To add to this, I am very happy to confirm that Zinedine Zidane is completing the line-up of champions representing the only eight nations to have won the World Cup. The gesture of Real Madrid to agree to his participation is exactly the spirit we need to celebrate football and the FIFA World Cup. This demonstrates how the sport of football, the FIFA World Cup and all the championship events bind players, enthusiasts and host countries together, across continents and across time.
In 20 days' time we will know the final 32-team line-up for Brazil 2014, with some thrilling matches still to take place around the globe for the remaining 11 tickets up for grabs. The growing anticipation is reflected in the sharp increase in Brazilian and international media coverage - World Cup fever is rising. Yes, football is taking centre stage. It is gratifying that the game and the stars will now take the spotlight after the hard work, occasional difficulties, emotions and even sometimes misdirected criticism during preparations. The world's largest sporting event is a platform for great opportunities for the host countries, but also for critics as it captures the imagination of billions across the globe.
Looking back at South Africa, in a few days, on 12 November 2013, FIFA will add another successful chapter to the 2010 FIFA World Cup by opening the last Football for Hope Centre in Alexandra, Johannesburg. It will mark a fitting end to the 20 Centres for 2010 FIFA World Cup campaign.