8
Jul

World Cup Diary: Tournament has been glorious but problems persist

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BELO HORIZONTE —

Good football, or a least a tournament with good narratives, will cover a multitude of sins. Barring something calamitous in the final week, the chaos that many had feared would characterize the World Cup has not come to pass and nor have the demonstrations against government corruption that dominated last year’s Confederations Cup.

Only Belo Horizonte, where Brazil will meet Germany in Tuesday’s semifinal, has really suffered, an overpass constructed as part of improvements in infrastructure for the World Cup collapsing onto a bus, killing two people and injuring several others. At the weekend, there were demonstrations at the offices of Construtora Cowan, the firm that built the overpass on Avenida Pedro 1, while others have visited the site of the collapse bearing placards that read, “This is the reality of the World Cup,” and “World Cup disaster: Put it on FIFA’s bill.”

Wrangles over that are ongoing. The area around the collapsed overpass has been shut off pending an investigation, with some alleging that short cuts were taken to get the structure in place in time for the World Cup. Local authorities have urged the judiciary to re-open the road in time for the semifinal to ease traffic pressure. “The work won’t be carried it in haste because of the World Cup,” said Colonel Alexandre Lucas Alves of the Civil Defense. “It can only be done when we can be sure there will be no more casualties.”

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Elsewhere, the main issues have been with the police’s habit of acting first and asking questions later. Early in the tournament, partygoers in the Rio de Janeiro district of Lapa were subjected to a baton charge and the indiscriminate use of pepper spray after spilling from bars into a pavement. Eyewitnesses said the mood was jovial and police waded in without warning.

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1
Jul

World Cup Diary: Brazil reinventing, redefining itself one step at a time

SALVADOR, Brazil —

Brazil wasn’t what I had expected. I’ve been here three weeks now, covering the United States men’s national team across this vast and diverse country, and I’m still not quite sure what to make of it.

The image was strikingly similar to that of the country where I covered the last World Cup, South Africa: A shambolic government that couldn’t get anything done by a deadline, inflicting crippling poverty lived in rambling shantytowns, in a country ruled only by lawlessness. But as it was in South Africa, most construction in Brazil has been completed, or at least looked the part, and I’ve never once felt unsafe.

Sao Paulo, where the United States and its press corps have been based, is a confusing place. There is no containing its sprawl, all of it infested with boxy apartment towers — invariably with terraces adorned with flapping Brazilian flags — pricking the blue sky. The traffic is soul-crushing. On a bad day, you can average less than five miles an hour in your cab or bus. Some days, early in our stay, the subway workers were on strike and it was worse still and you just stood there, thousands of running cars frozen in place.

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28
Jun

World Cup protests are smaller but still emerging in Brazil

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SAO PAULO —

It took a full two weeks at the World Cup for me to see my first demonstration in Brazil. It had been a long day. Following an early-morning flight on the heels of the USA-Portugal game in Manaus, a four-hour plane ride away, a colleague and I had scurried to the Estadio de Sao Paulo to catch the Netherlands-Chile match — insofar as you can scurry in this snarled metropolis at the edge of this tortuous country.

We caught a media bus back after the game, which would drop us off at a hotel close to our own. But as we pulled along a major thoroughfare taking us into our neighborhood — the swanky Barra Funda — the driver stopped the bus cold and opened the doors. In the middle of the road. This bus was going no further.

It took us a minute to realize why. Up the road, people were marching, protestors surrounded by a human wall of police in full riot gear, barely discernible through the black uniforms. It all looked innocuous enough from afar: A few hundred people, banging drums, chanting, and holding aloft a lone red banner. But there’s no predicting how a protest will turn out. They are lightly flammable. The Brazilians’ rage slumbers just below the surface and rouses at unexpected times. In recent days, people have started taking to the streets again. Some protests have turned violent.

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13
Jun

Here’s what Sao Paulo sounds like during a Brazil World Cup match

In case you hadn’t heard, there’s an absolutely massive soccer tournament called the World Cup going on in Brazil.

Brazilians are obsessed with soccer, and in case you had any doubt (really?), the video above puts that to rest.

Shot in Sao Paulo, a city that boasts a metropolitan population of over 20 million, the video captures the city’s reaction to Thursday’s World Cup opening match between Brazil and Croatia (also held in Sao Paulo).

The event is so massive that the streets are almost entirely empty. We’re assuming the rare car or person you see is the sucker that drew the short straw reluctantly going to replenish on beer beverages.

There’s not much else to say other than press play, and enjoy the horns, whistles, fireworks and unfiltered adulation as Brazil mounts their comeback.

THIS is the World Cup.

(h/t reddit)

1
May

Corinthians pay tribute to F1 legend Senna before match

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It has been 20 years since a tragic accident in the San Marino Gran Prix took the life of Brazilian F1 legend Ayrton Senna. The extraordinarily talented driver was from Sao Paulo and an avid fan of the club.

Although Senna’s career was cut short at just 34 years of age, he was a sporting hero to millions of Brazilians.

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Before their match on Wednesday night, the team walked out of the tunnel carrying replicas of the helmet Senna used to wear. It was a moving tribute to a man who so many in Brazil revere:

The players weren’t the only ones involved in paying their respect to the late Senna. Fans in the stadium created signs and banners for him as well:

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Photographs courtesy of Action Images.

14
Jul

With more than a hundred goals scored throughout his career, it shouldn’t come as a shock that São Paulo goalkeeper Rogerio Ceni is at again.

During the first half of his team’s recent match against Vitória, Ceni was called into action after his teammates won a free kick just outside their opponent’s 18-yard box. Showing no signs of the stress that typically follows free kicks, Ceni proceeded to perfectly curl his shot around the opponent’s wall, pulling his team level.

Rogerio Ceni, making it look easy since 1990.

22
Jun

Trecker’s Brazilian Travels: Unknown Utopia

Photo: Jamie Trecker/FOX Soccer

By Jamie Trecker, FOXSoccer.com

OLINDA, BRAZIL

The gunship flew low over the beach, heading north to Recife’s Derby Square. The protests would soon start, blocking the bridges in this city and snarling traffic to and from the set of interconnected islands.

Recife is a strange city. For two blocks along the coastline, you could be in Miami or Santa Monica, albeit with far fewer strip malls. But walk a block further inland, and you are in the favelas. Crossing the Avenue Domingos Ferreira puts you into a different city altogether. Here, the streets are unpaved, there are no windows on the cinderblock shanties, and laundry flaps from the telephone lines. There is sewage in the street, and the residents collect rainwater to wash in.

The city makes its money on tourism and textiles, and lately, it hasn’t been doing much of either. The beaches here, from Pina to Boa Viagem and beyond, have been virtually empty. The vendors who patrol up and down the sands have found few takers for the buckets of shrimp on their shoulders. The umbrella chairs were empty, and there was but one set of players on the vast tennis courts that stretch up and down the boardwalk. The beach soccer field was flooded, a product of the prior week’s rains.

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23
Jan

Talk about reaching unexpected heights, check out this neat video as Brazilian giants Sao Paulo expand their brand by launching their kit to a weather balloon by sending it up as high as 30,000 feet into the air.

12
Dec

Violence hits Copa Sudamericana final

Sao Paulo was awarded the Copa Sudamericana title on Wednesday after violent scenes on and off the pitch prompted Argentine club Tigre to refuse to play the second half of the second leg of the final played in the nation set to host the World Cup in less than two years.

Tigre officials said their players were attacked in the dressing room area by security officials during the half-time break, following confrontations on the pitch at the end of the first half.

Read more here.