The Week Ahead - 500 Days to Brazil World Cup; Valcke Inspects Progress

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(WFI) World Football INSIDER looks ahead to the key events in the global football business.

500 Days to World Cup, Celebrations Called Off

Brazil 2014 and FIFA delegates lon Friday at the exact spot where the World Cup will kickoff June 12 in Sao Paulo's Arena Corinthians. (Getty)
Monday marks 500 days to go until kickoff of the 2014 World Cup.

Brazil's World Cup organisers cancelled the 500-days-to-go ceremony in the capital Brasilia as a mark of respect to the victims of the horrific nightclub fire in the southern city of Santa Maria. A reported 231 people were killed in the fire, the deadliest in 50 years in the country.

Thirty days of mourning were declared in the city.

FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke expressed his sympathies for the victims' families in a message posted on his Twitter page: ''Very sad to hear of the tragedy in southern Brazil. My condolences to the families of victims."

FIFA is set to unveil the official World Cup poster on Wednesday.

Valcke Tours Host Cities

Valcke yesterday embarked on the first leg of a tour that will take him to all 12 Brazil World Cup host cities this year.

Fortaleza was the first stop. He was accompanied on the tour by sports minister Aldo Rebelo, LOC president Jose Maria Marin, LOC board members Ronaldo and Bebeto, and FIFA Ex-Co member Marco Polo Del Nero.

They attended the first test event at a 2014 World Cup arena; two Copa do Nordeste matches were played at the completely revamped Castelao.

"Well done, Fortaleza. First matches at a 2014 stadium. Events to test facilities are essential for success," Valcke tweeted.

With Brasilia the setting for the opening match of the FIFA Confederations Cup between Brazil and Japan on 15 June, the delegation today visited the capital city stadium today to get a progress report from Governor Agnelo Queiroz.

On Tuesday, the delegation heads to Confeds Cup host city Salvador for an update on the city's preparations followed by a stadium visit.

Valcke's four-day trip will end in Rio de Janeiro on Wednesday with a board meeting of the Brazil 2014 LOC.

Africa Cup of Nations Reaches Quarter-finals

Cape Verde are the giant-killing act of the Africa Cup of Nations. The tournament debutants - with a population of under 600,000 the smallest country ever to compete in Africa's continental competition - have advanced to the quarter-finals against all odds. They beat Angola 2-1 and go through to the last eight with tournament hosts South Africa.

The last round of AFCON 2013 games continues today with Niger v Ghana and DR Congo v Mali. The quarter-finalists from Groups C and D will be known by Wednesday evening.

The first quarters take place at Durban and Nelson Mandela Bay stadiums on Feb. 2.

International Club Tournament Kicks Off in Qatar

The Al Kass International Cup starts today with a stellar line-up of international club sides going head-to-head. The two-week tournament takes place at the Aspire Zone and is hosted by The Qatar Football Association, Al Kass Sport Channels and the Aspire Zone Foundation.

Paris Saint-Germain are the defending champions at the 12-team tournament now in its second year.

Four matches are held today - Liverpool vs Aspire Qatar; Real Madrid vs Cairo’s Zamalek; Paris Saint-Germain v Rio De Janerio based Fluminese; and Argentina's Boca Juniors vs Yokhama F.Marinos.

By INSIDER’s Mark Bisson

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