There are now 100 days to go until the FIFA Confederations Cup Brazil 2013 gets underway. More than 500,000 tickets have already been sold for the tournament, a pointer as to just how keen fans are to be there at the Festival of Champions, which this time brings together Brazil, Spain, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Nigeria, Tahiti and Uruguay.

As preparations continue, the Management Board of the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil™ Local Organising Committee (LOC) met in Rio de Janeiro on Thursday and focused their attention on the operational changes that need to be made ahead of the competition, which runs from 15 to 30 June.

“Today is a symbolic date, and we have had a productive meeting about the final stages of preparations for the competition,” said FIFA Secretary General Jérôme Valcke. “The people of Brazil are very excited, as you can see by how well tickets are selling, and we are excited too.

“Between now and then, however, we have a series of test events at the stadiums, which are vital in ensuring that fans, team delegations and journalists will all enjoy a wonderful experience this June.”

The level of commitment and willingness shown by everyone involved, including the Brazilian people, fuels our belief that we will be ready on time.

Jose Maria Marin, LOC Chairman

A test event will be held at each of the six FIFA Confederations Cup venues from April, with the LOC playing a part in some operational areas. The aim of these tests is to anticipate problems and to make sure that an event of the scale and complexity of the FIFA Confederations Cup Brazil 2013 unfolds without a hitch.

With the objective of ensuring every Host City is in tune with the tournament organisers and ready to receive and run the stadiums from 24 May, the LOC set out the decentralisation process that will take place in the next few months. At the moment some 45 LOC-recruited officials are working on the ground at the six FIFA Host Cities. By June, this number will have risen to 202.

“It’s been hard work up to now, but we, the Host Cities, the Brazilian government, FIFA and the LOC know that the next few months are going to be even busier and even more challenging,” commented LOC Chairman Jose Maria Marin. “However, the level of commitment and willingness shown by everyone involved, including the Brazilian people, fuels our belief that we will be ready on time.”

Brazilian Minister of Sport Aldo Rebelo, who accompanied the joint FIFA/LOC delegation on their visits to Recife and Belo Horizonte earlier this week, explained that the Brazilian government will also be stepping up its preparations for the FIFA Confederations Cup.

He said: “Over the next few days we’ll be making another six visits with a large team of representatives from every government ministry, and we’ll be studying all the operational plans central to the success of the competition in conjunction with the states, city councils, FIFA and the LOC. That’s the best way to ensure proper organisation and anticipate the problems that can come up in an event like this, and to make sure that we overcome every obstacle on the way.”

LOC Management Board member Ronaldo spoke enthusiastically about the visits to Recife and Belo Horizonte, and said he can feel the sense of anticipation rising wherever he goes.

Ronaldo added: “It was amazing to see how fast they got back on schedule at the Arena Pernambuco, while the Estadio Mineirao, which is a historic stadium and one very special to me, has been totally renovated. There’s plenty of excitement among the people too, as we’ve seen with the ticket sales and the number of Brazilian people signing up for the volunteer programme, with 25,000 people attending group-dynamics sessions.”

Meanwhile, in a move designed to safeguard the health of fans, Valcke announced that all the stadiums to be used at the FIFA Confederations Cup and FIFA World Cup will be smoke-free.

“We’ve done this at other events because we recognise that smoking can cause people discomfort,” he explained. “Even so, there will still be designated smoking areas at the stadiums.”