It’s underway, the 2014 World Cup.
And if it hadn’t been for the underlying tension in the air, it would’ve been amusing the way sports journalists, national coach Scolari and others yesterday repeated how pleased the Brazilians seemed to be and how much they supported the National Squad. “When Brazil scored, I could hear fireworks from outside. People celebrating, even outside the stadium”, an ESPN reporter marvelled from within the Itaqueirão. “If there’s ever been such a thing as paulistas not supporting the national squad, today we had the proof that it doesn’t exist”, Scolari stressed when initiating the post-game press conference. You see, Brazilians rooting for their team has become something not to be taken for granted. At least not in its totality.
President Dilma Rousseff did not address the crowd in the stadium or declare the opening of the World Cup, but was still roundly booed on several occasions during the game. Even so, Brazil did indeed come to a halt yesterday, the nation tuning in to watch Brazil defeat Croatia 3-1 in a game filled with dubious calls from the referee.
Clashes between protesters and riot police took place in São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Manaus, Porto Alegre, Belo Horizonte, Fortaleza, Salvador and in the Federal District. Some 20 persons were injured – among these four journalists – and close to 70 persons arrested. Police reportedly put rubber bullets and teargas to good use.
So far, the tournament has been characterised by the good-to-excellent quality of the games, combined with bad-to-disastrous refereeing: Croats were furious after yesterday’s defeat and Mexico would have been even madder had they not beaten Cameroon 1-0, after having two legit goals disallowed. While FIFA insists on not letting technology in…
The Netherlands crushed Spain 5-1. At halftime, Chile are beating Australia 2-1, with one brace from Valdivia. Valdivia is set to leave Palmeiras after the World Cup, so I guess the better he performs, the higher the price tag, which equals more money for Palmeiras. Thus, with all my heart: good luck, Valdivia! May you play your best football ever in the coming four weeks.
Tomorrow, the highlight is England vs. Italy in Manaus. I’m watching the game at the UK Embassy, wearing my 1993 Newcastle jersey.
Até mais, amigos.