BRING IT ON SPAIN! was the headline last Sunday prior to the Confederations Cup Final in O GLOBO, the Rio newspaper. WELL.. we all know the result. Two goals from Fred and one from Neymar, the tournament MVP.
Maracana was rocking and when the first of the two stanzas of HINO NACIONAL BRASILEIRO was played as the two teams lined up, the crowd continued singing the second stanza, and its repeat lines... O beloved idolized homeland. Hail ! Hail ! SALVE! SALVE!
The attendances were good throughout the 6 stadiums used for this dress rehearal, and the riots in the streets certainly brought the despair and loathing for the government from the masses, but on the whole they were under control. Brazil is NOT the Middle East with its factions, religions and bombings and assasinations. The grievances were clear and I think that both the government and FIFA got the message.
The 3-0 victory brought joy to the nation... and indeed to the world. Five times World Champions and defending Confederation Cup winners, THE BOYS FROM BRAZIL ARE BACK !!! Outside the Maracana is the statue of Hilderaldo Luiz Bellini, the captain of Brazil's winning teams of 1958 and 1962.. Maybe the next statue will be of FELIPAO- Luiz Felipe Scolari- if he pulls off the 6th World Cup a year from now in the same iconic stadium.
In 1950 in the deciding match of the World Cup, Brazil were defeated 2-1 by the Celeste of Uruguay and afterwards the Selecao ditched their plain white jerseys. A competition was held for a new design and the winning entry was by a young man from Rio Grande do Sul, who lived near the Uruguayan border. His name was Aldyr Garcia Schlee and his yellow, light blue and green entry is the best known of all international football strips. Most fans have a number 10 on the back, PELE'S number, and the jersey, is worn in all corners of the globe by rich and poor.
Sitting on the bench next to Felipao was Carlos Alberto Parreira who was coach of the Selecao at Los Angeles 1994 as they beat Italy on penalty kicks. He is an engaging and intelligent gentleman. 18 months ago I had the good luck to bump into him in Rio de Janeiro and have a short chat and he presented me with the gold label pin of the FIFA World Cup which I now wear with pride on my jacket.
On Monday FIFA announced that in 2014 we will have the least expensive tickets in recent years. We will have to wait until July 15th to learn of the prices.
Brazil was tested, but not like the World Cup will test next year. Very few foreign visitors and most Brazilian fans were from the area of the cities where the Confederation Cup matches were played. Trying to move 10,000 Dutch, English, German, Mexican, Argentinian or Italians fans from city to city will be a headache. The country is vaste and options are limited. The shortest road journey is Rio de Janeiro to Belo Horizonte in 6 hours while from Porto Alegre in the South to Manaus or Fortaleza are 4-5 hours by air and almost impossible by road.
Although it will be winter, the difference in climate from the north east to the south is a huge contrast. I once spent an hour outside Manaus airport in the middle of the Amazon in winter at midnight and it was like a furnace.
Let us see if the Brazilian government and FIFA will respect the masses and do what is right for a change.