SGI President Daisaku Ikeda sent a celebratory message for the June 12, 2014, opening of 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil at the request of Brazilian President Dilma Vana Rousseff. Together with messages from religious leaders of Christian, Islamic and Jewish traditions, Mr. Ikeda’s message was published on the official Brazilian government and news agency websites.
On this long awaited occasion of the holding of the FIFA World Cup in the Federative Republic of Brazil for the first time since it hosted the games in 1950, I would like to extend my heartfelt congratulations and best wishes to Her Excellency President Dilma Vana Rousseff, the people of Brazil and all those from around the globe who share a love of soccer.
The spirit of Brazil and the spirit of soccer resonate in ways that are deeply powerful and beautiful. This has been my honest impression since I first visited your remarkable country just a few years after Brazil won its first World Cup in 1958 by defeating Sweden.
It is my profound belief that the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil will generate a dynamic light of hope which will illuminate the world throughout the twenty-first century.
That light of hope has three attributes, the first of which is the power of openhearted friendship for bringing the peoples of the world together. The renowned Brazilian writer José Lins do Rego Cavalcanti (1901–57) said that football, like the carnival, is an agent of fellowship.
Brazil is an example of people of diverse ethnicities, cultures and beliefs transcending their differences to live together as a community, inspiring one another to greater heights. Together with its proud football culture, this great multiracial democracy forms a powerful and unfailing force for the creation of a culture of peace.
In a world still plagued by divisions and conflicts, Brazil shines as an invaluable light of hope for peace and harmonious coexistence.
The second attribute of the light of hope is the solidarity of those who celebrate human dignity. During a friendly match against South Africa in March 2014, the Brazilian team wore armbands in tribute to the late former President Nelson Mandela. As someone who had the honor of engaging in dialogue with President Mandela, I was deeply moved by the gesture.
On Robben Island, where President Mandela was imprisoned under harsh conditions for his struggle to end apartheid, playing soccer signified the freedom and liberation of the soul and respect for human dignity, and further, engendered great energy toward the creation of a Rainbow Nation.
Brazil, like the global soccer family, represents an unwavering conviction and fellowship, the proud commitment to upholding human dignity in the face of any violence or discrimination. I express my solidarity to that cause with utmost respect and admiration.
The third attribute is the courage to challenge future goals, unfettered by obstacles. The game of soccer is pervaded by a dynamic team spirit to fight for victory until the last possible moment with grit and a never-give-up spirit, undaunted by any adversity.
The FIFA World Cup, the ultimate celebration of the sport, is in itself a great endeavor to overcome difficulties with valor and perseverance, bringing together the global family while invigorating the lives of people everywhere. Each thrilling match is a treasure that inspires courage and dreams in the hearts of young people around the world, in whose hands our future rests.
Now, the much anticipated games are about to kick off in Brazil, a land alive with the spirit of friendship. I would like to express my best wishes for the festival of hope taking place in your great country brimming with promise, and for it to serve to strengthen human fellowship, marking a new departure toward peace, the triumphant goal of global civilization.
Parabéns, Brasil! (Congratulations, Brazil!)
Avante, Brasil! (Onward, Brazil!)
Let the games begin! Let them inspire the world!
June 12, 2014
President, Soka Gakkai International
[Adapted from an article in the June 14, 2014, issue of the Seikyo Shimbun, Soka Gakkai, Japan]