Bleacher Report was invited to take part in a telephone conference with the Brazilian Minister of Sports Aldo Rebelo, Wednesday, to discuss a variety of issues surrounding their hosting the 2014 World Cup.
Rebelo began with a short address, noting that Jan. 28 will begin a 500-day countdown to the tournament, while also providing a brief update on the state of Brazil's readiness—which will be scrutinised in their hosting of this summer's Confederations Cup and an upcoming World Cup test event.
"Two stadiums have already been delivered," Rebelo said via a translator. "Four more (will be ready) by April 2013. All will be delivered by the end of 2013."
"Brazil is getting ready, with a lot of work, to fulfill the task of hosting the greatest sporting party on earth."
Rebelo was then open to questions. On the subject of transport concerns, he said it was nothing new for a host city to confront challenges in this area—noting that London and Beijing both had major issues to deal with in hosting the 2008 and 2012 Olympics, respectively.
"We are making efforts to make things much more comfortable than they are today," Rebelo said. "...The idea is that all the 12 host cities will have a much better scenario than they do today for the World Cup."
He added that Brazil's airports will have double the capacity than was expected for 2014.
Addressing fan safety and the notoriously high murder rate in Brazil, Rebelo said his nation is used to hosting "regular large events"—citing the Rio carnival as a prime example—and is therefore well versed in policing them.
"There is a safety plan to ensure the local population and visitors will enjoy the maximum level of safety during the events," he said.
"In all of this, we seek to work with federal and state security agencies, so all people—not just tourists—can be safe."
Rebelo confirmed FIFA would be coordinating the ticketing for World Cup 2014. Judging by the record demand for tickets for the 2013 Confederations Cup, he is expecting Brazil to be a strong draw for fans all over the world.
"When demand is superior to supply, they (FIFA) have a draw system," he said. "So far, it's not been an issue."
One of the most-cited issues with fans heading to major sporting events is the price-hike applied by hotels and other forms of accommodation seeking to take advantage.
Here's how Rebelo says Brazil will tackle this problem:
Federal police and revenue services will be obligated to reduce hotel costs...The government are working with the private sector, to ensure no extortion of this type happens again.
IMPACT ON BRAZILIAN DOMESTIC FOOTBALL
Asked to comment on the percentage of Brazil's best players who choose to play abroad, Rebelo said he hopes World Cup 2014 will serve as a catalyst to improve the running of their domestic game—thus encouraging more to stay in future.
"Players are often managed in not a professional way, which can lead to them leaving the country," he said. "...This is a problem we need to solve by professionalising football and democratising (the way it's run)."
Rebelo said new management at Palmeras and Flamengo were a move in the right direction. He also said the government would deliver tax breaks to clubs run the right way and that he hoped to end the complicated player-ownership structure, which often relies on sponsor involvement.
Rebelo is confident Brazil will deliver a World Cup beyond peoples' expectation. One million volunteers will be enlisted to help make it happen, and he expects Brazil to "open its arms to the world" and deliver a "spiritual" welcome to all those who make the journey.
The 500-day countdown starts next week.
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