It was sad to hear about the death of a protester, run over by a car in Ribiero Prieto in Sao Paulo State last week.
It was in that unlikely venue that I visited on my first ever trip to Brasil in 1980. I had flown from Montevideo, Uruguay and the Mundialito, the eight team tournament to mark the 50th anniversary of the first World Cup in 1930. I spent a couple of days in Rio and visited the usual sites, including the CBF(then CBD) HQ in downtown where I got to see the World Cup The Jules Rimet trophy that the Selecao had won outright after their third triumph in 1962.
It was not there for long, and stolen and presumed melted down three years later. It was in a bullet proof glass case on the third floor at Rua da Alfandega. After the trophy was put on display in a stamp exhibition in London prior to the 1966 World Cup it had been stolen but later found in a hedge by Pickles the dog.
" It would never have happened in Brasil. Even Brasilian thieves love football and would never commit this sacrilege. "said Abrain Tebel of their federation in 1966. NOT !!!
On the night of 19/20th December 1983, the nightwatchman was overpowered by two men. They made off with the Jules Rimet and three other national team trophies. the Equitativa, the Copa Jarrito de Oro and the Copa Independencia. None were ever recovered.
Anyway, I took a small plane from Santos Dumont Airport on the waterfront in downtown Rio to my destination to watch the U20 team of Brasil play. At the small airport in Ribiero Prieto I asked a taxi driver for directions and he took me to a hotel, opened the trunk and carried my suitcase into the lobby. The manager welcomed me and I wasn't sure where I was. He took me into the restaurant and introduced me to the Brasilian team manager. He promptly insisted that I sit down and enjoy lunch with the Selecao.
What an occasion! the next day I took photos on the field in the first half and then sat up in the VIP area with the Police Chief of Ribiero Prieto. He took me on a city tour and to a sugar cane estate where the production was for fuel for automobiles, and some fine wine and empanadas with the owners. The area is big in agrobusiness and quite a prosperous city. The chief later took me to the bus station for the express to downtown Sao Paulo and then I called an old Brasilian friend who was a dentist and stayed as his families guest.
I wonder if I will be invited to lunch with the Selecao at FIFA WORLD CUP in 2014. Probably not, but I have my memories.