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.

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Brazilian weather is…unpredictable…

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

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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.

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Bumped into an Argentinian who supports my team – Racing!

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Ozzie Ozzie Ozzie!…

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

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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

 

24. World Cup News: Kick-Off Day!!…

It’s finally here.

I’m finally here, in an apartment on the beachfront.

The sun is still here, although it’s having a little disagreement with its main sponsor, showers, this week.

Some Dutch and Spanish tourists are here in Salvador, although not as many as you would have thought.

Fatboy Slim is probably here somewhere, getting ready for his World Cup-opening show here in Salvador later this afternoon/evening, giving me a dilemma about where to watch the opening match, since the FanFest is literally next to the place I’m staying, and where most of the friends I have made this past two weeks has been.

So, here’s the last news update before we can officially say: The 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil has started!…

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Security seems to be all in place and highly organised. As long as Continue reading

18. Not so friendly friendly…

On Friday evening, I took five friends, (an American, another American, an Ecuadorian-American, a South African and a Brazilian), to see Salvador’s first taste of the World Cup, (an hors d’oeuvres, let’s say), when Australia took on (competition openers) Croatia in local side Bahía’s Pituaçu Stadium.

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Estádio de Pituaçu, Salvador

An old friend, and current member of the Australian technical team, hooked me up with some VIP tickets for my friends and some inside information on Continue reading

16. Taxi Trouble on Salvador’s Streets…

A few days ago, I wrote what I felt may be an overly bleak view of some of the dangers in Salvador.

I hate being right sometimes.

On Friday evening, five friends and I jumped in taxis to travel over an hour to a local stadium to see Australia play Croatia in a pre-World Cup friendly, which will be blogged on soon.

Australia vs Croatia friendly, Salvador, Brasil

Australia vs Croatia friendly, Salvador, Brasil

(The problems of the public transport and roads here is another topic for another time…)

After the game, we all crammed into a larger taxi and Continue reading

15. World Cup News, Saturday 7th June…

I think i may start writing regular news updates, for all the fun facts and details I want to share with you, starting today with some sad news:

-I was just sent a message by a (new) Brazilian friend to tell me that former Brazilian, Internacional and Olympique de Marseille striker Fernandão has died in a helicopter accident in central Brazil.

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Brazil striker Fernandão, RIP

I was lucky enough to see Fernando Lúcio da Costa play when Continue reading

11. Insider info, mate…

Sometimes it is nice to know people’s whose fathers and fathers-in-law are coaches for international teams.

I woke up this morning to two Facebook messages from old friends in Japan to tell me that there is going to be a pre-games friendly between Australia and Croatia, right here in Salvador, although NOT in the World Cup stadium, the snappily named Itaipava Arena Fonte Nova. (Named after a local beer, I found out today, not some gorgeous native word)

Salvador's new World Cup stadium

Salvador’s new World Cup stadium

Tickets are Continue reading