By Robbie Blakeley, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – 2011 will see the wheels put in motion on Brazil’s preparation for the 2014 FIFA World Cup. For the first time in 64 years, the nation that gave the world the original notion of ‘The Beautiful Game’ will host the biggest tournament in sport.
Thus far, the preparations have largely been criticized by the media. However, with several steps set to be undertaken in 2011, this time next year should paint a far clearer picture on how ready Brazil is for the World Cup party to come to town.
In July, the region specific qualifying draw will take place in Rio de Janeiro, signaling the first active sporting move for the competition as the teams are grouped according to continent. As hosts, Brazil qualifies automatically.
In addition, later this year will see the unveiling of the official 2014 World Cup slogan, as well as a series of seminars and workshops taking place across the nation, outlining to the public what the world can expect from Brazil in 2014.
To top off what will be an eventful year for World Cup organizers, the venues for the 2013 Confederations Cup will be finalized, as well as the match calendar for the World Cup itself.
National Training Centers (NTCs) have now been finalized, offering areas for the 32 teams to train during the tournament. While Rio’s Maracanã stadium will be used for actual matches, including the final, Botafogo’s Engenhao stadium will provide sides playing in Rio de Janeiro with a pitch and athletics track on which to train and practice.
Rio de Janeiro, along with São Paulo and Brasília, is also in contention to host the International Broadcasting Committee. The decision will be made on technical grounds, and will depend on which city can best satisfy FIFA TV’s criteria.
At last there has been some good news regarding São Paulo. In January, the Brazilian Football Federation president (CBF), Ricardo Teixeira, indicated it would now be impossible for São Paulo to be in a position to host the World Cup’s opening ceremony and match.
However, Brazil president Dilma Rouseff last weekend offered her full support to a new stadium in São Paulo, and it is now believed she could make funds available for the project. Orlando Silva, Brazilian sports secretary, has confirmed Dilma’s stance on São Paulo.
“The president is satisfied with what she has heard from the state governor and the mayor and believes that São Paulo should, and will, host the opening match,” Silva said.
Up until now, it was thought Corinthians would have to fund any work on a new stadium for São Paulo to participate in the World Cup. However, with such powerful support as the nation’s president, São Paulo is once again very much in the running to play a major part in 2014’s World Cup.