Brazil counts down 100 days to World Cup
RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil (AFP) — Brazil yesterday marked 100 days to the World Cup finals with President Dilma Rousseff announcing major public buildings in the host cities would be bathed at night in the national colours, green and yellow, and in the 12 stadia while FIFA looked forward to an "exceptional" event.
World football body FIFA has criticised the country for the slow pace of preparations throughout, after the giant nation was awarded the chance to host back in 2007 and by yesterday, five of the venues had still not been officially inaugurated.
But Rousseff said yesterday was a special moment and Brazil was in the final furlong to stage the competition for the first time since 1950.
"Today is a very special date for all Brazilians. There are 100 days to go to the Cup and the country is in the final furlong with preparations for the grand fiesta," Rousseff said on her Twitter feed.
"Today, the host cities will be lit up green and yellow to remind people that the moment everyone is waiting for is on its way," she tweeted.
"Brazilians are ready to show they know how to receive tourists and contribute to making this the Cup of Cups."
Rousseff's fellow leftist predecessor Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva was in charge when the country won the right to host the event for the first time since 1950.
Although FIFA Secretary General Jerome Valcke said late last month the country would now have to "break the speed limit" to ensure it is totally ready to welcome three million domestic tourists and some 600,000 foreign visitors, FIFA President Sepp Blatter says he is sure the event will prove "exceptional".
He told FIFA.com: "It will be, in 100 days, an exceptionally good start for an exceptional competition. The Brazilian spirit of the game and the Brazilian ability to play football makes this World Cup very, very special. I'm sure it will be a great, great success."