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Brazil: Football fever finally winning over social anger

Brazil: Football fever finally winning over social anger

Posted by Juan Gavasa on June 11, 2014

At the Copacabana beach, the sandy figures of Neymar, Messi and Ronaldo stare blankly at passers-by. Duda collects two Brazilian Reals from every tourist who wishes to photograph his creation. A couple of German tourists wipe away beadsBSE 1.00 % of perspiration as they admire the sand sculptures.

It is 30 degrees centigrade according to the electronic boards that are attached to lampposts along the Copacabana. "The Europeans won't be able to stand the heat," says Diego, a Brazilian fan in a Flamengo jersey. "It will be Brazil all the way." There is a group playing beach football behind him. "Even they," says the fan, pointing at the beach footballers, "will last longer than gringos in this heat. We, Brazilians, are used to playing in this climate."

A huge arena is being built at the Copacabana for fans to watch the football on big screens when the World Cup begins on June 12. The Brazilian flag's motto "Ordem o Progresso" (Order and Progress) flutters serenely in the strong beach breeze, as workers carry miscellaneous construction parts presumably meant for the upcoming arena.

The country may still be on the edge, but there is now noticeably more yellow and green all around Rio de Janeiro than a week earlier.

Even local pet shops, which sell all sorts of creatures ranging from cats to exotic parakeets, have stocked up on La Canaria-styled costumes for pets.Some of the tentative excitement stems from the efforts of the media. O Globo, one of the largest newspapers in Brazil, has been trying to stir up World Cup fever.O Globo, known for its centrist political stand, has repeatedly urged the public to get behind its team at this delicate time."Have no fear, be confident for the World Cup," is the messag ..

Nearly three quarters of the airtime on Globo's television news channel is now dedicated solely to World Cup coverage.In contrast, the top story in Folha de Sao Paulo, a newspaper known for its anti-establishment reportage, is much bleaker — "Sao Paulo metro strike rages on". "Nao Vai Te Copa", or "There will be no cup", is scribbled in large white font on the flyover that crosses the main freeway from the airport to downtown Rio.

However, the anti-World Cup graffiti is now increasingly being matched by the colourful decorations that are a fundamental part of the football-crazy Brazilian culture.

A former official who until recently worked closely with the sports ministry says the atmosphere within the crucial government department remains tense, but hopeful."There are disputes and disagreements within the ministry even as the games draw nearer," said the official, who declined to be named because of the sensitivity of the issue.

The sports ministry, which is run by the Communist Party, an ally of the Worker's Party, is not very flexible in its thinking, says the former government official.It first became clear that hosting the World Cup would be much more difficult than initially expected when President Dilma Rousseff took over from the charismatic Lula.

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