Prezados amigos do futebol,
With 100 days to go for the kick-off of the 2014 FIFA World Cup™ looming on Tuesday 4 March 2014, the 12 host cities are busy fine-tuning their preparation for the arrival of the 32 teams. At the sites of five of the 12 stadiums the jackhammers shudder while the workers provide the final touches. Brazil has definitely now moved into a higher gear.
The people in the cities are starting to see more promotion around the tournament from our commercial partners and we are happy with the excitement generated, which is growing day by day. It is also great to see the teams from the Local Organising Committee, FIFA and the Host Cities working extremely hard, determined to make Brazil 2014 the “Copa das Copas”, or simply translated: “the World Cup of World Cups.”
I am really looking forward to coming back to Brazil this Sunday as you can not only see, but feel that the World Cup atmosphere has arrived. The huge interest for tickets particularly from Brazilians, but also from fans from all corners of the world, underlines the significance for any football fan of experiencing a World Cup in the country of the five-time champions.
About 80 per cent of requests have come from residents from the Host Country and this underlines the fact that the experience in the stadiums will be distinctly Brazilian. This is exciting: we all remember the wonderful ambience during the FIFA Confederations Cup. At the same time I would like again alert all fans that legitimate tickets can only be bought from FIFA.com. Unfortunately, unscrupulous persons are taking advantage of the enormous demand, misleading consumers on illegitimate internet platforms into buying ‘authentic’ tickets which these organisations simply do not possess.
In the meantime we are closely monitoring the works in Curitiba in order to assess the situation there. We will communicate the final decision to the teams as promised on 18 February when the Team Workshop starts in Florianopolis. The Brazilian Government, the Host City and state of Parana, FIFA and the LOC are seeking and finding solutions to help them catch up and hopefully make sure such a special city in terms of sustainability and passion for football will remain part of the FIFA World Cup line-up.
But none of the 12 cities can afford to sit back and relax - there's still plenty of fine-tuning to be done. In particular the pitches must be in top condition when FIFA takes over the stadiums 21 days prior to the first match in the venues. This is vital as we want to see the best perfomances by the players and this requires optimum pitch conditions over the 64 matches. And at no stage (nor any single moment) the safety and security is, or will be, compromised. This is definitely our highest priority.
The 32 teams, which will come together next week from Tuesday to Thursday in Florianopolis, finally know where they will be based and train during the tournament. The participating teams are getting ready for what promises to be an outstanding football spectacle between 12 June and 13 July 2014. The team workshop is the last major milestone event in Brazil before the FIFA Congress on 10 and 11 June in Sao Paulo, when FIFA’s reform process will be completed, with the Opening Match taking place the day after on 12 June in the Arena de Sao Paulo.
It has been wonderful to see that Brazilian stadiums have attracted a new attendance record. This proves that the modernisation of the country’s footballing infrastructure has been crucial in attracting fans back to the stadiums – and this will help propel the Brazilian league to even higher levels. It’s a paradox when you consider that such a massive footballing country which has had huge TV audiences over the past decades has also had a very moderate number of spectators in the stadiums. This is definitely a part of the legacy of the FIFA World Cup. And it should also help fuel men’s and women’s football in Brazil.
Internationally, FIFA World Cup fever has been certainly sparked by the Trophy Tour presented by Coca-Cola which has visited 67 countries around the world to date. I’m amazed by the impact the FIFA World Cup Trophy has on people; whether it’s an ordinary fan or the head of the state.
It is so touching to see the reaction of people when they see this iconic footballing image in the flesh for the first time. The bright eyes of small children or grown ups as they take a photo with one of the most famous items in the world shows the magnitude and reach of the FIFA World Cup. The growing excitement ahead of the World Cup can also be seen on social media, with ever-increasing numbers of fans around the world following FIFA on Facebook & Twitter. The high expectation for the tournament is also shown in the impressive 16,000 media representatives covering the 64 matches live in Brazil.
Until the official kick-off of the FIFA World Cup in 117 days, a series of fascinating friendly matches of the qualified teams are ahead of us on Wednesday 5 March – among them Gemany-Chile, reigning champions Spain against Italy, France versus Netherlands as well as former hosts South Africa against the next hosts Brazil. These matches will serve as an appetizer and barometer of what’s to come during the 31-day tournament. However, we as organisers must ensure that we provide the best conditions for fans and teams, for an unforgettable tournament in the "Home of Football".