Tragedy struck Brazil in the early hours of Sunday morning, when a fire in a Santa Maria nightclub in the state of Rio Grande do Sul left at least 230 people dead and dozens more hospitalized.

The accident led to the postponement of last weekend’s fixtures in the Gaucho State Championship, with various fixtures elsewhere taking place amid an atmosphere of mourning. Events surrounding the 500-day countdown to the start of the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil™, scheduled for this Monday, have also been cancelled.

FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter deeply regrets the tragic incident and expresses sincere condolences to the families of the victims.   

"Although words can do little to comfort the pain and anguish being suffered in your country at this moment, I would like you to know that the football family is thinking of the Brazilian people at this sad time," said the FIFA President in a letter to Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff.

"I would like you to know that with 500 days to go until the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil, our game is here to support people who are suffering through the hope and positive emotions it brings with it, and to carry them through these dark days."