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Spotlight moves away from WCup as Brazil grieves

FIFA General Secretary Jerome Valcke attends an inspection of reconstruction work on the National Stadium in Brasilia, Brazil, Monday, Jan. 28, 2013. The stadium will host games at this year's Confederations Cup and the 2014 World Cup soccer tournament. (AP Photo/Eraldo Peres)

SAO PAULO (AP) -- The 500-day mark to the 2014 World Cup was marked Monday with FIFA President Sepp Blatter leaving soccer aside and offering support to Brazilians mourning the death of more than 230 people in nightclub fire a day earlier.

The focus moved away from Brazil's preparations for June's Confederations Cup and the sport's showcase event next year as the tragedy in the southern city of Santa Maria dominated news.

Blatter sent a letter to Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff saying "the football family is thinking of the Brazilian people at this sad time" and that "our game is here to support people who are suffering through the hope and positive emotions it brings with it, and to carry them through these dark days."