*Prezados amigos do futebol, *
After all the colourful carnival celebrations across Brazil, the focus has now shifted to the FIFA World Cup™ preparations. By next Tuesday, we are hoping that the '2014 Bill' will finally be voted in by the House of Representatives for the Special Commission for the 2014 FIFA World Cup, with the text reflecting the agreed discussions with the government. Thereafter, it will be presented in the Senate.
We are hoping for an expedited process in this matter, in order for all the involved parties to get on with the job after years and months of talking and discussing the same matter. The finalisation of this will enable all parties, both at FIFA and in Brazil, to finally focus on the many operational and organisational duties that lie ahead for Brazil and FIFA, starting with the general infrastructure upgrades to the stadiums for the FIFA Confederations Cup.
In particular, this legislative framework formed in the bill is crucial as it is the foundation for many key decisions to be implemented by the host cities, which had been put on hold until President Dilma Rouseff signs this 'Lei Geral da Copa', as it is called.
So we remain optimistic that, as reassured by the Ministry of Sports and the Relator of the Special Commission Vicente Candido, we will be able to move on. Once the bill is signed, this will be the moment when FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter will come and visit Brazil to symbolically conclude this key milestone on the road to 2014, in a ceremony with President Rousseff, by unveiling the official slogan for the event.
I would like to congratulate Bebeto, on behalf of FIFA and its President Blatter, for his assignment as LOC Board of Administration Member. For the football family, it is remarkable to have two FIFA World Cup champions on board. Ronaldo and Bebeto together will contribute with their wealth of personal experience in the organisation of the FIFA World Cup and will help in achieving our joint milestones.
On 1 February we celebrated 500 days to the FIFA Confederations Cup. Today, we are left with only 477 days until the kick-off of the Festival of Champions on 15 June 2013 in Brasilia.
Please allow me, though I may sound repetitive, to stress how much work there is still ahead of us – and here I mean for the authorities, the host cities and states, and FIFA/LOC.
Some might think of the FIFA Confederations Cup with only eight teams and 16 matches as a curtain raiser, but for us and the host country, it is a substantial operational test. Brazil will be in the spotlight as the world will be benchmarking them for their readiness to host the FIFA World Cup a year later.
For now, I look forward to my upcoming second host city tour starting on 12 March in Recife, one of the two venues still competing to become a host city for the FIFA Confederations Cup. This will be decided in June 2012 based on the detailed assessments by our stadium experts.
Recife is also the hometown of my friend Romero Britto, who will accompany us on the visits and give us some additional insights from a more creative point of view. Our tour will then continue to Brasilia, a place I have visited before, but somehow never managed to see the stadium. The day after the visit there, we will hold our LOC Board meeting also in Brasilia.
From the capital of Brazil our delegation will move on to Cuiaba. It will be my first trip to a non-FIFA Confederations Cup host city and as I was told it will take us to the heart of South America and the gateways to the Pantanal, where we will conclude this March trip.
We have busy but exciting times ahead of us. The ball is rolling, the final countdown is ticking. Together Brazil and FIFA, we can make it happen, to amaze the world and make sure that the dream of any football fan around the world will become true - to experience an unforgettable 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil.