Rio de Janeiro:The head of FIFA's delegation scrutinizing Brazil's 2014 World Cup bid praised the country's presentation on Friday, making special note of President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva's commitment to the project.
"It was done with great professionalism and competence," said Hugo Salcedo, a Colombian-born naturalized American, who led FIFA's inspection team that completed its tour on Friday. "We felt ... the soul, the enthusiasm, the spirit that is Brazil."
The interest and input of Lula da Silva, an ardent soccer fan, was especially impressive.
"The most important thing was the meeting with President Lula," Salcedo said in Rio's Maracana stadium. "It was very emotional to see the president so enthusiastic about soccer."
The inspectors don't decide whether Brazil will host the Cup, but will return to Switzerland and file a report to the FIFA executive committee, which will announce its decision on October 30.
"We are the eyes and ears of FIFA," Salcedo said. "We could feel what Brazil is and that all the cities shown have what's needed to be a host."
Salcedo was part of a five-member team of FIFA that arrived on August 23 and examined 18 cities and stadiums that aspire to stage games for the 2014 tournament.
Brazil is the lone candidate to host the 2014 championship, an event it has won a record five times but hosted only once - in 1950, when it lost to Uruguay before a Maracana crowd estimated at about 200,000.
South America's most populous nation is likely to win the bid if FIFA remains committed to its continental rotation policy. The 2006 Cup was in Germany, and the 2010 Cup will be held in South Africa.