ZURICH, Switzerland - Brazil was chosen host of the 2014 World Cup on Tuesday, returning the showcase event to the soccer-mad country that held the tournament in 1950 and has captured the title a record five times.
People wave flags at the Christ the redeemer statue in Rio de Janeiro, Tuesday, Oct. 30, 2007, after Brazil was officially chosen by FIFA as host of the 2014 World Cup. [Agencies]
Brazil was the only candidate and won in a unanimous vote by the executive committee of the sport's governing body.
"Soccer is not only a sport for us," Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva said. "It's more than that: Soccer for us is a passion, a national passion."
FIFA president Sepp Blatter said Brazil now has "not only the right, but the responsibility" to organize the 2014 tournament. Blatter then handed the World Cup trophy to Lula.
Lula, who flew in for the announcement, promised that Brazil "will now with great pride do its homework." And, he added, "if everything works out well, we will win once again a World Cup."
The vote came on the same day the 2011 Women's World Cup was awarded to Germany. Germany, the host of the 2006 men's World Cup, beat out Canada.
After the withdrawal of Colombia in April, Brazil was the sole candidate, the choice of the South American continent enjoying the right to host the event. Brazil had been told by FIFA it wasn't guaranteed the tournament simply because there were no opponents, saying it had to provide a solid bid package.
In Brazil, 50 mountain climbers hung an enormous national team jersey bearing the slogan "The 2014 World Cup is Ours" from majestic Sugar Loaf mountain in Rio de Janeiro. At the famed Maracana Stadium, workers spread flags across the field reading, "Maracana is ours and so is the 2014 World Cup."
Blatter said the lack of competition from other South American nations was one reason behind FIFA's decision Monday to do away with the rotation system that gave each continent a turn at hosting the World Cup. The decision takes effect with the 2018 tournament.
"We are a civilized nation, a nation that is going through an excellent phase, and we have got everything prepared to receive adequately the honor to organize an excellent World Cup," Brazilian Football Confederation president Ricardo Teixeira said.
Brazilian Sports Minister Orlando Silva, national team coach Dunga, veteran striker Romario and renowned author Paulo Coelho were among those making the trip to Zurich.
"Of course, dreams demand hard work and we Brazilians are ready to face this task," Coelho said. "All the countries in the world have two teams - the national squad and the Brazilian squad."
Brazil hosted the World Cup once before, 57 years ago. Since launching its bid for 2014, Brazil has emphasized why the country needs the World Cup, much more than what it has to offer the tournament.
"Over the next few years we will have a consistent influx of investments. The 2014 World Cup will enable Brazil to have a modern infrastructure," Teixeira said. "In social terms will be very beneficial."
"Our objective is to make Brazil become more visible in global arenas," he added. "The World Cup goes far beyond a mere sporting event. It's going to be an interesting tool to promote social transformation."
Tuesday's presentation was smoother than the one in July, which underlined Brazil's status as a developing nation with repeated images of its car factories and dry statistics.
Blatter had recently questioned Brazil's infrastructure and bid plans, but FIFA said last week that a stadium-inspection trip in August showed the country could put on "an exceptional" tournament. Brazil has 10 of the world's largest soccer stadiums.
However, there have been delays in hosting some major events, problems with violence in the streets and the public transportation system in the country is often overloaded.
The Brazilian soccer confederation estimates that the construction and remodeling of stadiums will require an investment of $1.1 billion, though that could vary significantly depending on the cities chosen to host games.