With the arrival of the last members on Sunday, the team of 52 referees who are shortlisted as candidates for the 2014 FIFA World Cup started their work in Rio de Janeiro at the first preparation seminar on Brazilian soil. The seminar marks another major milestone on the road to the FIFA World Cup for the referees which started in September 2012 in Zurich. Coming from 46 different countries, the referees will undergo a series of theoretical meetings, clinical evaluations and physical activities, until 31 May, with the help and support of the FIFA Referees instructors and many other professionals from various different areas, such as medical, technological, physiotherapy, communications and administration.
The opening ceremony and presentation took place this Sunday morning, which involved the FIFA Head of Refereeing and former referee, Massimo Busacca, a former two-time FIFA World Cup referee. "We are now at the final stage, the most intense part of this process which will lead us to the FIFA World Cup 2014," Busacca explained. "Here you have everyone playing football, everywhere and at any time of the day! That is why, with that passion in the air, with that energy, I want the referees to breathe football, to eat football. You are the best of the best for referees around the world. And you will be demanded to be the best also on the pitch, during the FIFA Confederations Cup and the 2014 World Cup." Representing the Local Organizing Committee (LOC), the CEO and Director of Operations, Ricardo Trade, welcomed the international referees, saying: "Brazil is in a new era. In all areas, we are experiencing a new moment. We are creating a new standard to have the best quality pitches in all stadia, where the referees may have the best conditions to develop their work." Trade, who personally came to meet the referees before leaving for Brasilia, for a test event at the Estadio Nacional Brasilia Mane Garrincha, said: "We have the honor to innovate in this Confederations Cup, as there will be Goal Line Technology in our stadiums, and in order for the mechanism to function at the best possible way, we at the LOC, are making our most, all the necessary, in order to have the referees able to develop the necessary conditions to take their decision on the pitch, in the best possible way." Bebeto, also a member of the LOC, was clearly touched when he was applauded by all the referees, and told the public some details of his career as a striker for the Brazil national team. "I welcome each and everyone of you with opened arms, as friends and as the most important visitors in my country," Bebeto said. "I always had an excellent relationship with referees, always tried to be an example on the pitch and outside of it. I and Ronaldo, who is with me working for the LOC, are doing all we can to secure that the pitches at those FIFA competitions in Brazil are as perfect as possible. "And with your collaboration, the FIFA Confederations Cup will be an amazing open invitation, an aperitif of what will happen during the 2014 FIFA World Cup. I wish you success, and be sure that you are so very important: you are vital for the development of a good football match." The closing speech of the day, came from Ron DelMont, Managing Director of the FIFA World Cup Office in Brazil. "The referees that are here in Brazil, today, are the symbol of passion and talent, of how serious we all have to be, and the ability, of those professionals that will take such important part at those FIFA competitions in Brazil, making it a great football event. We will try our very best to allow you to have all the necessary conditions to manage the matches on the pitch. And we, the managers outside the field, have to do exactly as you do on the pitch. We have to be focused, we have to be in control, we have to disconnect from events around us and we have to deliver the best result possible. You are the managers on the field and I wish you all the very best success in our duties in Brazil." Ten referees among those who are in Brazil have already been chosen to work during the FIFA Confederations Cup in June.