Starting this Thursday, the eyes and hearts of the world will all be turned to Brazil. Thirty-two national teams representing the best in football in the world will all be vying for the World Cup, the event that, every four years, makes us all football fans.
This is the time for football’s largest international festival, but it is also time for us to celebrate, thanks to football, the values of fair play and peaceful coexistence among all peoples. It is an opportunity to reinvigorate the humanistic values of Pierre de Coubertin: the values of peace, harmony and tolerance.
The “Cup of Cups,” as we affectionately call it, will also be the Cup for peace and against racism, the Cup for inclusion and against all forms of discrimination, the Cup for tolerance, for dialogue, for understanding and for sustainability.
Organizing the World Cup is a source of pride for Brazilians. On and off the field, we are united and dedicated to providing a great spectacle. For one month, visitors coming to our country will discover that Brazil has become a mature, thriving democracy.
Over the last 12 years, we have advanced one of the most successful projects to raise income distribution, employment levels and social inclusion in the history of the world. We have reduced inequality at stunning levels, bringing 42 million Brazilians into the middle class and lifting 36 million Brazilians out from extreme poverty in one decade.
We are also now a vibrant democracy, despite living under a dictatorship a few decades ago. We enjoy the most absolute freedom and coexist harmoniously with popular demonstrations and demands, which help us improve and perfect our democratic institutions ever more.
In all 12 host cities of the World Cup, visitors can get an up-close view of the diversity of our culture and our geography. We are a country of music, of natural beauty, of cultural diversity, of ethnic and religious harmony, of respect for the environment.
It is true that football was indeed born in England, but we like to think that it was in Brazil that it made its home. It is here where Pelé, Garrincha, Didi and many other football masters, who have dazzled millions around the world, were born. So when the World Cup comes back to Brazil after 64 years, it feels like football has returned home.
We are the Land of Football because of our glorious history of five world championships and for the passion that every Brazilian dedicates to their team, to their heroes and to the Seleção, our National Team. The love of our people for football has become part of our national identity. For us, football is a celebration of life.
On behalf of 201 million Brazilians, I would like to extend our warm welcome to all fans from the United States and to all visitors who have come to Brazil to share the “Cup of Cups” with us.
Dilma Rousseff is the president of the Federative Republic of Brazil.