So… I’ve been a little delayed in my posting on the World Cup, NOT for lack of enthusiasm, but simply due to being a little overwhelmed by the task. It’s hard to explain what the World Cup was like here. All I can think to say is that it was all-encompassing. It dominated our lives. It took over our schedules, our conversations, our work, our apartment, our emotions, our outfits, our food, our thoughts…every aspect of our lives seemed to suddenly revolve around this tournament (that is so much more than a tournament).
Since Brazilians are soccer fanatics, I’m sure that World Cup season is always crazy here, but while they were the host country… it was amazing. I’ll admit that the fandom was a little delayed due to the protests over the government corruption and the gross misuse of funds, however as someone rightly put it, “Brazilians’ main form of protest was really just waiting until the tournament started to go all-in.” Once the first game had begun, the flags were flying high. Speaking of the tournament beginning, I guess I’ll start there…
The host-country always plays in the first game and this year Brazil kicked off the tournament on Thursday, June 12 against Croatia. This was a national holiday in Brazil (as were all Brazil game-days). The game was being played in São Paulo and while we didn’t have tickets, we did have great seats to watch from one of our favorite local bars, Vaca Veia. As was the custom throughout the World Cup, we arrived at the bar 3-4 hours early to get the party started and on the day of the opener, even the walk from our apartment to the bar was awesome. There was yellow and green everywhere! The energy was amazing. Although I will admit that that game had some of the tournament’s more questionable calls, Brazil took it 3-1 and it was amazing.
That weekend we scheduled our lives around the games, including a full day of feijoada and futebol at Bar des Arts with friends.
The next big game was, of course, Team USA’s first match on Monday July 16 against our World Cup arch nemesis, Ghana. It was a must-win for the USMNT so to watch, São Paulo’s gringo-nation all piled in at one of our favorite bar/restaurants, BOS BBQ (where one of the owners is an American friend). We rocked out to the national anthem and went absolutely crazy for the entire 90 minutes of soccer. It was a perfect combination of incredibly fun and incredibly stressful as Ghana seemed to out-play us the entire game, though thanks to Clint Dempsy’s unforgettable goal in the first minute and Zusi’s beautiful corner in the 86th, somehow the US came away with the win.
Parts 2 and 3 coming up next…!