As the World Cup comes fast and furious at you, it’s difficult to process everything happening in a country that’s the size of a continent in an event with 32 protagonists and many story lines.
Watching Brazilian TV, and not just the sport channels, helps.
The good news
There have been no bad matches. Even the two blowouts had drama. Okay, Iran-Nigeria was a dud.
If you’re on the street, you can stop and watch at a street corner. Since the matches are on a free channel, TV Globo, every store or bar has the transmission of the Copa do Mundo. Not just Globo, but every channel is showing it. They all have rights. Bandeirantes. ESPN, SportTV; the differential being the commentary and coverage you like best. They also replay the matches, in case you missed something while you were on the train or on the road.
On Brazilian TV, everything Mundial is news. The telly showed tidbits like the Japanese fans cleaning up after themselves in the stadium, a real anomaly in Brazil. Also, the ship off the coast where the Mexican fans are using it as a hotel, and the charter flights coming in to Brazil to watch “El Tri” play the hosts in Fortaleza. They report that Japan did not provide a translator for interviews. In Natal, where USA played Ghana, there was a disaster area declared for copious rains, but they still played.
Off the field, the event is everywhere. Neymar is in all the ads. On TV, in print, on magazine covers, and you may wonder when he did all this if he was a full-time pro. The best ad is for Hawaianas, a maker of the ubiquitous sandals everyone wears on the street in Rio. It shows former star Romario, with the sandal on only the right foot. When they ask where is the left, a graphic shows a package sent to Argentina and addressed to Maradona, a left-footer if there ever was one.
Argentina invades Rio de Janeiro
When in Rio….The Argentinians invaded Rio. The Sunday headline was “Invaded by our brothers.” Argentina-Bosnia was Lionel Messi’s first match in Maracana, and he got his second goal in World Cups. Tickets were impossible to come by, as there was much more demand than supply for the return of the World Cup to Maracana.
At some point, prices went from $1000 to $600, still unreachable for most of the fans in attendance. Saw Chinese, Mexicans, Kuwaitis, and many Americans, Venezuelans and Colombians wanting to see Argentina. Brazilians also went, but said to cheer against Argentina, who have very loud fans.
The bad news
Your credit cards may be not function because of heightened fraud detection measures. Your cell phone service and internet will be spotty even when you’re in the city of Rio. Be it the buildings, the mountain, the lack of infrastructure…it is what it is.
Next Mundial, even if it’s in Russia, learn Portuguese and get the Brazilian package on your provider.