You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

After a terrible start, Brazil’s love affair gets a spark

LiveMint logoLiveMint 12-06-2014 Shrenik Avlani

Sao Paulo: On Thursday Brazil celebrates Dia Dos Namorados—the Day of Lovers. On Thursday all of Brazil also celebrates the biggest festival of its first love—football.

The buntings are out. The fans have started flying in. The media has landed. Reservations have been made. Invites for parties have been sent out. Security guards are ready. The menu is set. Football and love are on top of the list here.

Bruno Paulon, a corporate executive in Sao Paulo, will be watching the game with his girlfriend at her home. After their fix of jogo bonito, they would head out in the evening for a romantic dinner. “Of course, Brazil will win [against Croatia in the opening game that day]. It will be the perfect date for us.”

Finally, after over three weeks in Sao Paulo, there is some excitement for the World Cup. The state government has done its bit by declaring 12 June as a state holiday.

It wouldn’t have mattered much even if it hadn’t. “Everything shuts down when Brazil plays,” said Sao Paulo resident Mariane Pacheco. “Almost all markets and stores will be shut. Few buses will ply that day. Many local padarias (bakeries) and restaurants will also stop work. Everyone will be watching the game for those two hours. Make sure you have bought your supplies before Thursday.”

The bars along the Rua Augusta popular with both tourists and locals were extremely busy for a Tuesday night. The most popular joint of the evening was the Couch Surfing night out at Acai Beach Bar which was bustling with football fans from all over the world. Mexican supporters in green jerseys were the single largest group and were happily mingling around with strangers, pouring beer for whoever caught their fancy. There were two Indian fans as well: Rudi, a software professional from Delhi who is currently working in New York, and Shivani, another Delhiite, who has given up her job and is trying to figure out things with her American boyfriend during the two weeks they spend in Brazil watching the World Cup. Whether their countries are participating or not, there were people from Russia, China, Morocco, Scotland, Ireland, Colombia, Slovenia and Serbia among many others in that 1,500 sq. ft room who were united in their love of football.

The venue within is buzzing with activity as thousands of contract labourers work round the clock to get the stadium and its surroundings ready in time. Cranes are out once again to fix the last minute leaks; scaffoldings are scattered all around Arena Corinthians as new signage and boards are installed in a hurry; Fifa partners and sponsors have urgently called in more reinforcements to finish their fan and spectator areas.

For the first time in several weeks, the media persons and cameras—not allowed inside the stadium except in the media centre—were paying more attention to the random fans in Brazil and Mexico shirts who were posing for a picture together. Instead of zooming in on the workers in the background, they were more interested in creating a romantic image of the World Cup in Brazil than nit-picking on the country’s preparedness.

Late in the evening four men parked their Volkswagen Minivan outside the stadium and pulled out their trumpets and drums and started singing and dancing. A perfect moment for the gathered TV crews.

Even though Arena Corinthians may remain a work in progress all the way till the semi-final, from here on the media focus is shifting to football and consequently the world focus will also move away from troubles and protests that have plagued the tournament till now.

With a little help from the media, despite the chaos, protests and the mad rush, it now finally looks like Sao Paulo will miraculously be ready for the opening night on the day Brazil celebrates love.

Whether Brazil win or lose, the date is on.

More From LiveMint

image beaconimage beaconimage beacon