The battle of the Goliaths turned out to be David vs Goliath where David forgot his slingshot… What a slaughter! And the worry surrounding the potential violence in the event of a Brazilian loss seems to have been well founded. The three biggest cities in Brazil (Rio, Sao Paulo, Belo Horizonte) all saw widespread security issues involving criminals, fans, and tourists. There were several reports of mass robberies where gunmen turned up a bars and robbed a number of people, this was also reported to have happened at the Fan Fest on the beach on Copacabana however some reports remain uncorroborated. There were reports of Brazilian fans fighting Germans as well as other Brazilians.
Tonight’s semi-final match in Sao Paulo (19C, 68% Humidity, slight chance of rain) will certainly see an enhanced security presence in the wake of yesterday’s violence. Hopefully, most of the violent criminals are too hungover from yesterday’s disaster to start trouble tonight but it should be anticipated nonetheless. Argentina, Brazil’s biggest rival, is playing tonight and their fans have a history of belligerence including during this tournament when they jumped a fence to get into the Maracana. If Argentina win or lose, be aware of the potential for violent confrontation between the Argentine supporters and Brazilians.
Leave plenty of time to negotiate getting to the match and through security and leave valuables back at the hotel. Have some spare cash stashed away somewhere on you so if you do get robbed, you have some means of getting home. This advice applies to those going to the game or just watching at a bar or Fan Fest. Importantly, leave at the first sign of trouble. Don’t wait around for things to degrade and then try to leave when it’s too late.
Enjoy the match. It is fixing to be another stunner. Let’s see if anyone will score 4 goals in 6 minutes…
And we’re off again! All of the 8 group winners are through to the quarterfinals for the first time ever.
The big story in Brazil yesterday was the collapse of an overpass under construction that tragically killed several people riding in the bus it fell on in Belo Horizonte, one of the host cities. Although there were many concerns about the quality of construction of the stadia, there has been little to worry about thus far and with only 8 matches remaining, these concerns seem unnecessary; touch wood.
Today’s early game is France vs Germany in Rio (31C, 100% Humidity, clear) at the Maracana. There are no concerns about this match. Typically, both countries have fans whom are reasonably well behaved. The later game is Brazil vs Colombia in Fortaleza (30C, 65%, clear). Security services have been put on standby in order to respond in case of a Brazilian loss, not only in Fortaleza, but throughout the country as well. The concern is the potential for wide scale rioting in the face of defeat as has been seen in a number of other cities including Vancouver after they lost the Stanley Cup finals.
The first day of the elimination rounds and it’s an all South-American affair for today. With enthusiasm and fanaticism reaching new levels, expect to see an increased security presence to ensure fan safety, prevent overcrowding and stop crowds forcing entry into the stadium.
This evening’s matches are in Rio (30C, 94% Humidity, clear) and Belo Horizonte (26C, 77%H, clear), Brazil’s 2nd and 3rd largest cities respectively. Both cities are known for violence in the less affluent neighbourhoods and have both seen large protests against the World Cup Finals. Noting this, both cities have hosted four matches each without major incidents. Occasional reporting of pickpockets and muggings continue but these are most often reported by tourists who stray from the ‘beaten path’ and find themselves isolated, away from the security of others, and without escape route. Don’t keep all your eggs in one basket; ensure you have some money to hand over in the instance of being mugged as well as money elsewhere to draw upon in emergency. Know where you are staying and have it written down so you can show a cab driver. If you have a mobile with maps, download the maps before leaving, using wifi, and follow along the route so you know you’re not being ripped off (you can your data stream off and this will still work).
The last 24hrs has seen a few security events but none have been in close proximity to fans. The protests in Sao Paulo, Rio and Brasilia were small, up to 200 people, but it’s only those who are prepared to get tear gassed and shot with rubber bullets (neither of which are much fun) who are now showing up. The police have made it clear that these will be dispersed rapidly and they will not interfere with tourists and football fans. France24 wrote a good report on the summary of events yesterday, read it here.
Two armed men and a police officer were shot and killed during violence in the Complexo do Alemao favela in Rio de Janeiro. There is an inexplicable tendency to want visit the less-affluent parts of Brazil, which is incongruous most tourist activities. Tourists were not piling into South Central Los Angeles in the wake of all the gang violence there but in Rio it seems to be a good idea… If you do venture into the favelas, be aware that you are always a target for crime because your plane ticket may have cost more than they make in a year. Exercise caution, keep your valuables out of sight, and don’t get lost.
On the fan safety front, an Australian fan was ejected when an altercation started with a Brazilian fan. Unsurprisingly, the police took the Brazilian chap’s side. The police are friendly and helpful but, like in most places, if you get in a fight with a local, don’t expect the police to take your side; especially if you can’t muster a word of Portuguese. It’s also a great way to extort a bribe from a tourist.
Today’s fixtures are in Natal (28C, 88% humidity, increasing chance of rain in the evening), Belo Horizonte (24C, 83%, clear), Cuiaba (33C, 83%, clear), and Fortaleza (30C, 83%, dry). Belo Horizonte was recently added to a warning to UK citizens for a high likelihood of protests. Be aware of locations where protests have previously occurred and avoid them. Leave at the first sign of trouble but if you do get caught out, get inside and ride out the storm.
Half of the games down (32), and the sky has not fallen upon Brazil and the World Cup Finals. And unless FIFA attempts to snatch disaster from the hands of victory, as the Americans achieved last night in the 95th minute, all is looking to go well.
Although there is no game in Belo Horizonte today, the UK government has issued a warning concerning the likelihood of protests. It is the third largest city in Brazil and ranks 48th out of the 50 most dangerous cities according to the UN’s murder statistics. That said, six other host cities in Brazil make the list and none have seen much in the way of violence against tourists and fans. Steer clear of any areas that are known for being protest hotspots and leave at the first signs of unrest; don’t wait for things to get out of hand.
Fan fests have been great parties throughout the country for those who don’t have tickets to the games. They have had a good balance of freedom and security, preventing crime but letting the public enjoy themselves. After all, this is Brazil, who is better known for throwing big parties?!
We’re now into the last games of the round robin and there are four games a day for the next four days, two concurrent games, with no late match. Today’s games are in Sao Paulo (24C, 88% humidity, clear), Brasilia (26C, 77% humidity, slight chance of rain), Curitiba (21C, 94% humidity, clear), Recife (27C, 89% humidity, heavy rain expected).