By Andrew Warshaw

Jerome Valcke with Brazil 2014 mascotDecember 27 - FIFA secretary-general Jerome Valcke says 2012 has been "a demanding and challenging year" for football's world governing body but is clearly relieved that Brazil is beginning to meet its 2014 World Cup targets.

In an end-or-year review, Valcke, who has had several confrontations with the Brazilian organisers, says the fact that all parties are now singing from the same hymn sheet has been a major plus after a string of delays and obstructions.

"As we are approaching the end of 2012 I can definitely say that it was a demanding and challenging year," Valcke wrote on FIFA's website.

"But also a very productive one, with more integration with the Government resulting in many important milestones achieved together on the way to 2014.

"The build-up to any major sporting event is a matter of extreme interest, not only in the host country but around the world, and it is extremely encouraging to see that the organisation of the events in Brazil has now grown into a huge collective undertaking."

Valcke made it clear, however, that there was no room for complacency  with the Confederations Cup, the World Cup warm-up tournament, taking place next summer.

Fortaleza Estadio CastelaoThe Estadio Castelao in Fortaleza, one of the host cities of the FIFA Confederations Cup 2013 and the FIFA World Cup 2014, which was finished earlier this month

"It was great to see the opening of the two first stadiums in Fortaleza and Belo Horizonte still this month and also the great strides at the four other FIFA Confederations Cup venues which are now working at full speed to meet the deadline - latest April 15, 2013 - to stage the first test events," said Valcke.

"Every hour of every day now counts.

"The final decisive phase has begun, not only for the FIFA Confederations Cup host cities, but for all FIFA World Cup venues."

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