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…
It was an unfortunate result for the would-be African giant killers yesterday. The scores belie outstanding performances, especially on behalf of the Algerians who pushed the near-favourite Germans to extra time.
There was a small silent protest at Copacabana in Rio yesterday of about 100 people. It was a non-violent demonstration against the World Cup and the misuse of state funds. As opposed to previous protests, this was well controlled and the desire to attack security forces not present.
Today’s matches are in Sao Paulo (23C, 58%Humidity, clear) and Salvador (27C, 74%H, slight chance of rain). The early game is in Sao Paulo between Argentina and Switzerland. Sao Paulo hasn’t seen much trouble throughout the tournament with statutory holidays imposed throughout the city on match days to ease congestion. That said, Argentinian fans have been a concern at other matches and have been branded as hooligans at previous international matches. The late game between the USA and Belgium in Salvador will undoubtedly see a large American presence (they bought three times the number of tickets of the next foreign fans). Although large groups of Americans are the preferred target for anti-western terror groups, these aren’t typically South American and there has been no reporting to indicate such a threat. There was one reported attack where English fans were set upon by a group of belligerent Brazilians. All the assailants were subsequently arrested but that doesn’t discount the potential for another occurrence elsewhere.
Last day of the group stages and the big news at the moment is the torrential rain in Recife for the big USA vs Germany match scheduled for this evening. If it keeps falling at the current rate, the match maybe cancelled. Equally important is the difficulty some fans are having at getting to the match. Get moving early if you want to get in and see the game, if it happens….
With the qualifications almost set the concern now is the future games between neighbouring South American countries. These have a higher likelihood of getting rowdy, even violent. As we saw in the Argentina match yesterday, they didn’t mind taunting the Brazilians in the stadium and they will be likely to carry on outside the stadium as well. Of particular note are Brazil vs Chile, and Colombia vs Uruguay both on Saturday. Hopefully this concern proves unfounded but it would be foolish not to be aware of the possibility.
Today’s matches are in Brasilia (28C, 53% Humidity, Clear), Sao Paulo (29C, 56% H, Clear), Recife (28C, 100%H, heavy rain trailing off towards the end of game time), Curitiba (22C, 83%H, foggy, clearing later).
We’re down to the last two days of the group stages and all is going swimmingly. No incidents reported amongst fans however the Italian contingent has complained about Uruguayan propensity for biting in the box. When all else fails…
A sit-in, or rather a live-in, protest was set up last night in front of the local government buildings in Sao Paulo. Protestors will continue to try and capitalise on the media presence during the tournament. As we progress towards the elimination rounds, expect attempts at protest to increase and this to be reciprocated with efforts of suppression by the security services.
Today’s games are in Porto Alegre (20C, 100% Humidity, heavy rain early clearing towards game time), Salvador (27C, 94%H, slight chance of early rain clearing in the afternoon), Manaus (30C, 89%H, slight chance of rain), and Rio (30C, 94%H, clear). The Maracana in Rio de Janeiro had fan incursions in the first two games and none during the Belgium vs Russia game. Although this may have been down to a lack of enthusiasm on behalf of those fans, I suspect it has more to do with enhanced security presence following the embarrassment of the first two matches.
As we near the end of the group stages, fans who don’t have tickets to later matches may be tempted to try pitch invasions or incursions into venues; do not be tempted by such stupidity. It will only get you arrested and deported. Deportation may be a badge of honour when it’s done on a political basis but it will be a huge embarrassment when done for criminal reasons.
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.