BELO HORIZONTE: Cruzeiro last night wrapped up the Campeonato Brasileiro – the Brazilian football league title – for the third time in their history after they beat Vitoria 3-1 with goals from Willian, Julio Baptista and Ricardo Goulart.
Cruzeiro’s domination of the Brasileiro caps a momentous year for football in Belo Horizonte after their city rivals, Atlético Mineiro, won the Copa Libertadores in July.
Belo Horizonte city officials hope the ‘double’ will fuel the excitement of the local football community in the city that will host six matches during the 2014 FIFA World Cup, including a semi-final.
Although the game was played in Salvador in north-eastern Brazil, Cruzeiro fans lined the streets of Belo Horizonte and packed into Praça Sete de Setembro, Belo Horizonte’s main square, to celebrate the remarkable triumph.
Accompanying the success on the field, Belo Horizonte has also made great strides in the city’s preparations for the 2014 FIFA World Cup™ and the Rio 2016 Olympic Games with the recent announcements that the Argentinean football team and Team GB athletes will be based in the city for the world’s two biggest sporting extravaganzas, reaffirming Belo Horizonte’s status as a global sports hub.
Speaking about Cruzeiro’s victory and the city’s World Cup preparations, Belo Horizonte Mayor Marcio Lacerda, said: “The performance of the clubs from Belo Horizonte in 2013 proves that this is the capital of Latin American football.
“The success on the pitch added to the excellent training centres in the city, our location within the country and the optimal climate make Belo Horizonte one of the most sought after training bases for teams at the FIFA World Cup. We will be ready to welcome people from around the world and we have no doubt that anybody who visits will be enchanted with this city and this state.”
Camillo Fraga, the city’s Municipal Secretary for the World Cup, said: “It’s great that Cruzeiro are the champions of Brazil, adding to the success of Atlético Mineiro earlier this year. This is a historic moment for Belo Horizonte and a timely boost as we look ahead to the FIFA World Cup.
“We’re also delighted that the planning and hard work of the Municipality of Belo Horizonte is reaping tangible rewards for the city off the field with 19 delegations from FIFA World Cup nations, including Argentina, having now visited the city. All of those who have travelled to the city have been very impressed with our sports infrastructure and facilities.”