Posted: 11/3/2007


        The news that Brasil was going to host the 2014 FIFA WORLD CUP is no suprise to anybody-they were the only federation bidding. In 1950 the 4th World Cup was held in this giant South American country, but only 13 countries took part.Six cities: Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo, Recife, Porto Alegre, Belo Horizonte, Curitiba hosted matches, and very few foreign fans showed up. 

         USA defeated England 1-0 in Belo Horizonte, and the tournament was organized so that the final match in the last round of 6 teams, pitted Uruguay 'The Celestes' Sky Blues, and Brasil, for all the marbles, and the Jules Rimet Trophy.

         Uruguay came from behind to win 2-1 and stun the 200,000 plus crowd into silence. The team was nearly thrown out of future World Cups after their Battle of Bern in the 1954 quarter-final,where they lost to Hungary on the field at the Wankdorf Stadium and lost their heads, kicking and screaming in the Hungarian locker room afterwards. but as we know, Brasil - playing Jogo Bonito 'the beautiful game' has won soccer's most prestigious trophy 5 times.

        The Maracana or Estadio Jornalista Mario Filho (as it is officially called) after a legendary sports writer, is, along with Wembley, the two most hallowed grounds in the world, but is now showing much wear and tear. In the 60's the team claimed that despite their skills, they were rapidly slowing down in the later stages of international matches.  Dr. Kenneth Cooper the aerobic guru based in Dallas, TX arrived and started an aerobics programme. On the fence surrounding the stadium and its indoor arena and ajacent track and pool are signs(as well as much graffiti) giving the Coopers- the running distance around the fence.  Last time there I visited a tatty museum with the goal net that Pele scored his 100th goal in but inside the corridors stunk of urine. In July 1992 an Upper deck collapsed and 3 fans were killed and 50 injured.  Look at the proposed stadiums.

            One of my great dreams when I was younger concerned the 2 cowled, free-standing phone stands behind either goal. Of course all the correspondents who stand there ready to rush on the field to interview a goal scorer now have cell phones to call the office. My dream was to score the winning goal against Brasil with an overhead bicycle kick, then rush to one of those phones(after the obligatory summersault) and call my friends all over the world. By 2014, if I make it to Rio I don't think I will be doing summersaults any more.

          Rio de Janeiro is famous for its fine beaches, among other things. Copacabana, Ipanema, Leblon, less crowded as go further south.  In 1962 at the Velosa Bar on Montenegro St, a couple of blocks from the Ipanema Beach, a couple of guys used to sit on the high stools by the open windows, as I have enjoyed doing. Every day 15 year old Heloisa Enerda Paes Pinto used to stroll by, to get cigarettes for her mother. She was a stunning girl and being Brasil, attracted many looks and whistles.

        Antonio Carlos(Tom)Jobin was a musician, and along with his writer friend Vinicius de Moraes - a lyricist, penned a song  Garota do Ipanema -The Girl from Ipanema.

           'Tall and young and lovely..  The girl from Ipanema goes walking... And when she passes..  Each one she passes goes Aaaah!.. When she walks she's like a samba... That swings so cool and sways so gently... That when she passes... Each one she passes goes Aaaah......'

           The young girl, now called Helio Pineiro is in her late 60's, has been married for well over 40 years to the same guy and has 4 children, and grandchildren.  The song wasn't much of a hit locally, but by 1965 was Top of the Pops in America and elsewhere.  Next time you go to Rio de Janeiro be sure to go to my favourite bar in the cool evening after dusk, and raise your Chopp glass (draught beer) or caipirinha( made with cachaca,sugar and lime) or guarana(my favourite), and watch who strolls by.  The bar is now called A Garota do Ipanema - Girl from Ipanema,  and a Holy Temple of the Bosa Nova music, and the street has been renamed  Rua Vinicius de Moraes.  The walls are full of lyrics and photos and they will show you the high chairs the pair used to sit on to chat, drink, and oggle the girls going by.