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Report: Brazil World Cup 2014

World Cup 2014 kicks off with demos, harsh refereeing and own goal

Brazilian fans celebrate the third goal of their team against Croatia
Brazilian fans celebrate the third goal of their team against Croatia Reuters/Arnd Wiegmann

On day one of the World Cup we learned that some people are annoyed about the moeny spent, there's very little crime when it rains and the first goal was an own goal.

  • If you build they will come. Followers of previous daily reviews will know the tendency to lurch towards cheap and easy lines from films and songs. In the interests of continuity à la Blatter, daily reviews from this tournament will not see a change of policy. I’m going to be like the old crook who, when asked to be a witness at a wedding, replied: “I’ve never witnessed nothing in my life.” Sadly there were far too many witnesses in Sao Paulo for the clashes before the opening match between riot police and anti-World Cup demonstrators. Still, if authorities spruce up a big stadium in the middle of a city while public services falter, it can’t be that much of a surprise if some people are a tad annoyed.
  • Balance is important. Since we started with an anecdote about a robber, seems only fair that we turn to the cops. When the daily review was but a cub reporter in south-west London, we had to go to the local police and fire stations to “go through the books”. A benevolent sergeant or fire chief would say what had been happening in the area. The etiquette was you’d later buy them a drink and they would give you "steers" as to what was going on. They’d get their name in the paper and it would help their promotion prospects. And, of course, you’d get good stories. The wheel was a good deal for everyone. There’s a story from the firefighter that I’ll mention another day. One week I went to the police station and the sergeant said there was nothing doing, really quiet. “How come with all these fine houses in Wimbledon?” was the gist of my inquiry. “It’s been raining,” he replied. I looked at him quizzically. “There’s very little crime when it rains,” he informed. Fast forward nearly three decades later and several thousand kilometres … it’s tipping it down in Natal. Doubt we’ll see angry exchanges before the Cameroon v Mexico match.
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  • Steer clear from travelogue. In a report for broadcast – the daily review is a dazzling multi-media phenomenon or (in the interests of balance) a lurid catastrophe – Natal was depicted as a sun-blessed city on the north-eastern shores of Brazil. Temperatures average 28°C around the year. Next morning? Rain. But there’s no need for a sweater.
  • Lots of people want the cup and those who don’t may well benefit. There were 62,000 inside the Arena Corinthians for the opening match and millions more packed into bars. I managed to find a couple of young students on the beach in Natal before the match who weren’t that bothered about the extravaganza. Saw it as wasteful, actually. Later at a bar, I met a woman, Juliane, out with her two sisters and their three children who were imbibing the collective episode. Juliane said the tournament was the moment when the voiceless could be heard. They had no say in the decision to spend nine billion euros. But the exorbitant costs had given them power to demand a better deal. Paradoxical and pertinent.
  • The hosts duly scored the first goal of the 2014 tournament. It came after 11 minutes but it was an own goal. Marcelo was the unfortunate defender. Nothing he could have done. Well, he could get his hair done. Looks like a mop, man. Short back and sides! That calmed the bar where I was watching the game to merely raucous. The noise rose 18 minutes after the setback when Neymar beat Croatian goalkeeper Stipe Pletikosa with a long range shot. Harshly awarded penalty mid-way through the second half was dispatched by Neymar and Oscar got the party really going with the third in stoppage time. Croatia really should have done more after their first. Going behind, especially from an own goal, wasn’t in the script. I wonder what the odds were on that scenario.

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