15
Jun

Trecker’s Brazilian Travels Day 4: Worth the fight

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Photo: Jamie Trecker / FOX Soccer

By Jamie Trecker

BRASILIA, BRAZIL

Brazilian security forces sent out the alert at 8:14 local time: avoid the TV tower and stay off the roads.

Security forces worked to “sanitize” the area around the Garrincha, closing off roads, trying to divert cars and pedestrians. They separated the people into two streams: the folks in yellow, and everyone else. The ones in yellow were going to see their national team play; everyone else was going to sit in the road and block the way in.

Some 57,000 security forces have been deployed across the country. I know, because I got a press release that was supposed to be reassuring. It sounded desperate instead.

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14
Jun

Trecker’s Brazilian Travels, Day 3: Tire Fires and Protests

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Photo: Jamie Trecker / FOX Soccer

By Jamie Trecker

BRASILIA, BRAZIL

It’s not every day that you walk over to a stadium to be confronted by plumes of black smoke, shooting hundreds of feet into the air. But that was the scene this morning outside the Garrincha, here in Brazil’s capital.

Protests have been roiling Brazil this week, and there’s a good reason for it: the World Cup has cost the public here an incredible amount of money – and Brazil’s cost of living keeps on rising. A hamburger from a chain restaurant costs double what it does in the United States. You don’t want to know how much a bottle of beer is. Even a small fluctuation in prices has a big ripple effect in a country that has only recently lifted 40 million people out of abject poverty.

There is something in the air here, and it’s not just smoke: people are fed up. When the corruption and waste surrounding the World Cup first came to light, it was greeted with a shrug, a sign of business as usual. But when it became apparent that almost all the money was going into stadiums – and very little was going into building things people could actually use on a daily basis – things changed. Many Brazilians – despite their love for the sport – are finding it hard to get on board with an event they see as solely for the rich.

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14
Jun

Brazilians protest outside stadium prior to Confederations Cup

This is not what the Confederation Cup hosts were hoping for the day before the tournament kicks off.

Several hundred protestors were in action, lighting tires on fire outside of Brazil’s Estadio Nacional Mane Garrincha and blocking police and firefighters from extinguishing the flames.

Our Jamie Trecker was on the ground to give a full report of the protest.

13
Jun

Trecker’s Brazilian Travels, Day 2: Architectural colossus

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Photo: Jamie Trecker / FOX Soccer

By Jamie Trecker

BRASILIA, BRAZIL

Raymond Chandler portrayed Los Angeles a sun-blasted city where dreams were scorched away. He could have been writing about Brasilia, a modernist fantasia where the heat and the light are unrelenting.

It’s winter, and the sun sets just after 5:30 here – but this is the hottest time of the year. There isn’t a trace of humidity in the air, and the red clay throws up whorls of dust that cake the streets and the buses. At noon, it is 27ºC and cloudless. Lucia Costa’s grand esplanades sweep five lanes of traffic to the Juscelino Kubitschek Bridge on the Eastern end, past the Cathedral, past the museum, and past the vast plazas of raw concrete.

Brasilia’s architect, Oscar Niemeyer, was many things: a genius, a modernist, and also, it appears, a brutalist. His expanses are meticulous, and his designs are awesome in the truest sense of the word. They are also unrelenting in the afternoon, with the heat reflecting off the white facades and up that perfect Roman surface.

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12
Jun

Trecker’s Brazilian Travels, Day 1: Appropriate starting point

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Photo: Jamie Trecker / FOX Soccer

By Jamie Trecker

BRASILIA, BRAZIL

Dawn. The city lies below the 757, an outpost on a craggy steppe. It looks like a toy, or maybe a prop until the plane descends further. The arcs of the city form two giant wings – or perhaps Orion, clutching a bow and firing an arrow toward Brazil’s coast.

Brasilia was to be Brazil’s great leap: a city that erupted whole cloth,  perfectly planned. It was to be a utopia of sorts, but it is not. It is, however, an architectural marvel, a modernist edifice that fifty years after its construction has the power to shock and amaze. It is also one of the places I had always wanted to visit.

I’m here because the Confederations Cup, something of a modernist construct itself, will kickoff here this Saturday. There is a lot of pressure on the hosts both on and off the field. Brazil’s staging of the 2014 World Cup has been somewhat star-crossed; budgets have been blown, strikes have been waged, protestors have marched and there is a weary sense that the government funds have been looted by this tournament.

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