Posted: 11/27/2012


      I just bumped into England manager Roy Hodgson at the Visit Manchester booth at the SOCCEREX World Forum here at the Rio Convention Centre. I went to his talk with Zico, about their thoughts about The Beautiful Game in general and the coming World Cup. Jeff Powell was the moderator. It was great...until there was a thunderstorm outside and the microohones and giant screens went dead..and we all left the hall.

     A couple of days ago I passed by Maracana Stadium on the train and it looked like a building site. Miracles may happen and it is due to open in April 2013, well in advance of the friendly between Brazil and England next June, part of the FAīs 150th anniversary celebebrations. GOOD LUCK !! The same day FIFA General Secretary Jerome Valcke, in his yellow hard hat, toured Maracana and he was not impressed with the lack of progress.

    `I know that England want to play the game but we will not approve the fixture and give the stadium a certificate if we are not sure of itīs safety.` England will host the Brazilians at Wembley Stadium next February, but they are due for a short South American tour next June, with Brazil and Rio de Janeiro the supposed highlight.

     On Friday Brazil fired their latest coach Mano Menezes after a lackluster season. As hosts they donīt have to qualify of course, but Brazilian fans and the media like to see their national team play The Brazilian Way.

    In a few days the draw for the 2013 Confederations Cup will take place in Sao Paulo. Look at for all the news. Also look at all the 12 new World Cup designs for the host cities. They are on display at the FIFA booth about 30 metres from where I am typing this blog. I particularly like the one from Manaus with its exotic parrot design. I first saw them all on line last night at . You can probably choose your own favourite.

    On Sunday I was at a specially built mini stadium on Copacabana beach where they had some ex pros playing small sided futebol. The game that I watched was between players from Brazil and Argentina. The guest coaches were Carlos Alberto and Gerrard Houllier.. Stands on 3 sides with the beach open on the far side. At the weekends the Avenida Atlantica has the nearest 3 lanes to the beach cordened off for strollers, joggers, cyclists and skate boarders, and the locals and tourists take full advantage.

      On the beach there were lots of futebol matches, plus futevoley, volleyball, paddleball and more. You can do push ups and other exercises on metal contraptions, get a cold water spray, visit many underground toilets and lockers and of course the hundreds of min bars selling drinks including coconut milk and alcoholic drinks and snacks.

      sand artists have sculptured gorgeous designs of Rio's landmarks  which you might want to leave a R1 coin for the privilege of taking a photo. Weekends at the beach are a time to relax, though it rained on and off this weekend. Welcome to Rio de Janeiro.