|My dear friends,
Starting this Thursday, the world’s eyes and hearts will all be turned to Brazil and to the largest World Cup in history.
At least 3 billion people will let themselves be dazzled by the art of the 32 best football teams on the planet.
For Brazil, hosting the World Cup is a source of satisfaction, joy and pride.
On behalf of the Brazilian people, I would like to welcome all of those coming to be a part of this World Cup, which will also be a Cup for peace and against racism;
A Cup for inclusion and against all forms of violence and prejudice;
A Cup of tolerance, diversity, dialogue and understanding.
The Brazilian National Team is the only one to have played in all the World Cups held so far.
And in every country visited, we have always been very well received.
We will now repay the kindness with which we have always been treated by extending our warmest welcome to all visitors.
I am certain that visitors to the 12 host cities of the World Cup will get the chance to meet a cheerful, generous and hospitable people and will be impressed with a country full of natural beauty, a country that strives, day after day, to become less unequal.
To our friends from around the world: come in peace!
Brazil, like its Christ the Redeemer, welcomes all of you with open arms.
For any country, organizing a World Cup is like playing a tough – and often taxing – match, with overtime and penalty shootouts.
But the end result and the celebration are worth the effort.
Brazil has overcome all major obstacles and is now ready for the World Cup, on and off the pitch.
And for this victory to be even more complete, it is essential that all Brazilians correctly understand everything that has happened.
A view of things that is devoid of false triumphalism, but also without distortion or defeatism.
As is said in the language of football: “Practice is practice, a match is a match.”
In the match, that starts now, the naysayers have already lost before entering the pitch.
They have been defeated by the capacity for hard work and by the determination of the Brazilian people, who never give up.
The naysayers said there would be no World Cup because there would be no stadiums.
The stadiums are here, ready.
They said there would be no World Cup because we would not have airports.
We have practically doubled the capacity of our airports.
They are ready to serve all of those who come to visit; ready to give comfort to millions of Brazilians.
They even said there would be power rationing. I want to assure you: there will be no electricity shortages. Not during the World Cup, not after it.
Our power grid is robust and safe, because we have worked hard for it.
They even embarrassed themselves by predicting a dengue fever epidemic during the World Cup, in the middle of winter!
In addition to the major physical and infrastructure projects, we are also delivering a safety and security system that can protect all, and ensure the right of the vast majority of Brazilians and visitors who want to watch the World Cup matches.
We are also delivering a modern communication and broadcasting system that uses state-of-the-art technology, including fiber optic networks and cutting-edge equipment, in all 12 host cities.
My dear friends,
The World Cup expedited construction work and services that had already been earmarked as investments to be made under the national Growth Acceleration Program, the PAC.
We have built, remodelled and expanded airports, ports, roads, bypasses, bridges, rapid transit routes and advanced public transportation systems.
We did this, first and foremost, for Brazilians.
I have said it more than once: the airports, subways, BRT systems and stadiums will not go back with the tourists in their suitcases.
They will stay here, benefiting us all.
A World Cup only lasts a month, but the benefits are for life.
The new airports were not only necessary to get tourists in to see the World Cup.
With the country’s increasing levels of employment and income, the number of passengers has more than tripled in the past decade: From 33 million passengers in 2003 we went to 113 million last year, and should reach 200 million in 2020.
Therefore, and above all, we needed to modernize our airports to improve the day-to-day life of Brazilians, who increasingly travel by plane.
We also now have modern and comfortable stadiums, from North to South, that match the stature of our football and our fans.
In addition to hosting football matches, these stadiums will be multipurpose: they will function as shopping malls, business centers and leisure areas, as well as the stage for concerts and festivals.
My dear friends,
Some people claim that the World Cup’s resources should have been invested in healthcare and education.
I have heard and respect those views, but I disagree with them. This is a false dilemma.
Just for the sake of comparison: the investments made in stadiums, built partly with financing from federal banks and partly with funds from state governments and private companies, added up to R$ 8 billion.
From 2010 (when construction of the stadiums started) to 2013, Brazil’s federal government, states and municipalities invested nearly R$ 1.7 trillion in healthcare and education. I repeat: R$ 1.7 trillion.
In other words: for the same period, the amount invested in healthcare and education in Brazil is 212 times larger than the amount invested in stadiums.
It is also worth remembering that the healthcare and education budgets are among those that increased the most during my administration.
We need to look at both sides of the coin.
The World Cup is not just about spending, it also brings revenue to the country.
It is a driver of economic and social development.
It generates business, injects billions of reais into the economy and creates jobs.
And rest assured of this: the World Cup accounts are being meticulously scrutinized by the country’s auditing institutions.
If any wrongdoing is proven, those responsible will be punished with the utmost rigor.
My dear friends,
The Brazil that receives this World Cup is a very different country than the one that hosted its first one in 1950.
Today we are the seventh economy in the world, as well as a global leader in various sectors of industrial production and agribusiness.
Over the last few years we have advanced one of the world’s most successful projects to increase income distribution, employment levels and social inclusion.
We have massively reduced inequality, bringing 42 million Brazilians into the middle class and lifting 36 million out of extreme poverty in one decade.
We are also now a young, dynamic and vibrant democracy, despite living under a dictatorship a few decades ago.
We enjoy the most absolute freedom and coexist with popular demonstrations and demands, which help us continuously improve our democratic institutions.
These institutions support us both in ensuring freedom of expression and curbing excesses and radicalism of any kind.
My dear squad players and Technical Committee,
Underneath the green and yellow uniform, you embody a powerful heritage of the Brazilian people.
The Seleção represents our nationality. It stands above governments, parties and interests of any group.
Therefore, you deserve that one of the legacies of this World Cup is also the modernization of our football’s structure and of the relationships that govern our sport.
Brazil needs to give back to you, and to all athletes, for all you have done for our people and our country.
The Brazilian people love and trust its Seleção.
We are all in this together, whatever may come.
Long live Peace!
Long live the World Cup!
Long live Brazil!
Thank you and good night.