37. World Cup Day 13: Brazil find their bling…

Whooomp, there it is.

After two damp squib matches marred by diving, awful officiating, and Brazil just not being particularly good, the hosts finally arrived last night despatching the feisty but not particularly impressive Cameroon to their third straight loss and propelling them into a knock-out match against Chile, (which should be a rip-snorter, given their South American neighbour’s form so far, despite a harsh 2-0 loss to Holland yesterday afternoon).

20140623-0019

The seleção even has Ronaldo dancing again…

The first of Neymar’s two goals was the 100th of an already Continue reading

Advertisements

32. World Cup Day 7: hasta la vista, campeones…

Well, that all happened rather suddenly.

Spain, World and European champions and many people’s bet to win the whole shebang, will be on the next flight back to Madrid, and they still have to go through the motions of a match against Australia, (also out of the cup), in a match as meaningless as most people thought but for reasons not many people can have expected.

20140618-0006

Won’t be needing this shirt again this World Cup…

Spain almost went 1-0 down to Chile in the first minute in a must-win game, and Continue reading

31. World Cup Day 6: Draws, Dives and Disappointment (for Brazil)…

The rain which hammered down all morning here both woke me up and kept me indoors, meaning I had time to completely organise both my photos,  and my Panini sticker collection.

20140614-0006 copy

Brazilian weather is…unpredictable…

In case you’re wondering, I need 173 stickers, and have already Continue reading

27. World Cup Kits…

I have several addictions, from collecting books to Panini stickers to languages to countries visited, but one of my favourites is my collection of sports jerseys, 80% of them being of the footballing variety.

At the last World Cup in South Africa I carefully coordinated my day’s wardrobe to coincide with any teams that were playing, so I could support them in style.

The day Cameroon, Denmark, Japan and Italy all played, I was weighed down by four jerseys, (my FC København shirt, my fake Shunsuke Nakamura Japan jersey, my Indomitable Lions Cameroon strip, and my Fiorentina camiseta), which were peeled away one by one as the matches came and went.

33445_432513028836_3126502_n63364_432513213836_447831_n

36052_432513358836_2810906_n62444_432513493836_5941876_n

(Can you spot the subtle Japanese ‘peace’ symbol?)

I have one for every team I’ve ever Continue reading

26. The ‘beautiful’ game…

Last night, the World Cup began.

At last.

I joined 10,000 other fans at Salvador’s FanFest, (serviced by a whopping five toilets: for anyone visiting, I recommend not spending too much time at the top of the beach nearest the FanFest…), and people drank, danced, and got soaked as we spent three hours waiting for the game to start.

Three hours during which apparently they decided not to show us the Opening Ceremony on the giant screen.

Oh well, I got about a third of the way through my regular World Cup Challenge of taking a photo with a fan from every country in their national jersey, (and a few in team jerseys from around the world, too), and the party spirit was, finally, high.

unnamed

Bumped into an Argentinian who supports my team – Racing!

unnamed

Ozzie Ozzie Ozzie!…

And then that decision happened, and the World Cup was already a little bit ruined for me.

0613world_cup_fred_729-408x264

6.0, 6.0, 5.9, 6.0, 5.8…

I was wearing the Brazil jersey I’d bought in 2006 in the joy of going to my first ever World Cup match, the same fixture in Berlin. After seeing the replay, I took it off in disgust and refused to wear it again for the rest of the evening.

It felt dirty, (in every sense).

The crowd reacted awkwardly, the locals, (about 50% of the crowd), cheered the penalty a little shamefacedly, thre rest of us soon turned our support to Croatia, hoping for them to score a deserved equaliser.

People, from the Croatian players and manager to the press are blaming the referee.

It may have been a terrible decision, (made not only by a referee, by the way, but by a linesman and an ‘additional assistant referee,’ the man whose job it is to stand on the goal line and…well, I’m not sure. (S)he no longer has responsibility for goal-line decisions, since FIFA finally allowed technology to take care of that. But from two metres away he failed to spot the worst dive I’ve seen for years in a football match.

But if referees are making decisions like that every five minutes in matches, as players spend more time rolling around on the floor and waving imaginary cards at officials as they did last night, (wasn’t that made a yellow card offence in itself?), what chance do they have of getting every decision right?

We should stop blaming the referees, and start blaming the people who are obviously to blame: the diving, cheating, scumbag players.

Fred...

Fred…

Anyway.

It was great to be at the World Cup again, meeting people, taking photos, discussing memories from past events.

The evening ended with a gig by local percussion band Timbalada, followed by a DJ set from local favourite Fatboy Slim, (or Fachi Boi Slimi, as he is brilliantly pronounced here!).

For now, I am off to watch Mexico vs Cameroon, switching between my Cameroon and my UNAM Pumas jerseys, and then heading to my first live match of the 2014 World Cup: a category 1, halfway line ticket to see a rematch of the last final, Spain vs Holland!

(Dressed in my Barça shirt: Forza España!!!)

Photo on 13-06-2014 at 12.16 #2

 

14. Benfica International…

I woke up this morning, (as I often do), and headed straight downstairs to breakfast in the youth hostel.

On the way, I bumped into two French guys who were in my dorm room, and who knew of my footballing passions due to a conversation we had had the night before.

“There’s one of yours down there,” one of them told me, happily.

(Except in French, of course).

I had no idea what he meant, but soon understood when, arriving on the ground floor, I was greeted by this guy:

Glorioso...

Glorioso…

The sheer ridiculousness of travelling halfway around the world to meet a Benfica supporter was added to by the fact that he was from Angola, (a former Portuguese colony).

And also that he, the African, was wearing a European jersey whilst I, the European, was wearing my Cameroon jersey, (my favourite African team due to the fact that I once, very briefly and very unofficially, worked for them).

This is football.

This is Benfica.

This is my life.