23 january 2019
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Henry Winter

Alan Hansen




Brazil's party

Brazil's party

It started at the airport.
Normally the humidity is the first thing you notice when you arrive in Brazil; that or the heat or the fact everyone is wearing running shoes with jeans. But this time there was something more prominent.
Every advert – and there were plenty of adverts – were related to football. This was a certain corporate definition of World Cup fever to be sure, but it served as a reasonable barometer for what was to come.
The woman who took our parking ticket looked bored. Another muggy night, another dull shift. But she burst into a smile when I commented on her nails, which boasted Brazilian flags in green, yellow and blue varnish.
She could not wait for the World Cup to start.
Thursday morning brought sun and more fandom. Flags fluttered from car windows, billowed from apartment windows. Almost everyone was wearing canary yellow – even if official jerseys were few and far between.
A supermarket in the Barra region of Rio de Janeiro was packed with locals stocking up on goodies for the game: beer, salgados, more beer. They were scrambling for good reason; with Brazil playing Croatia at 5pm local time, shops were closing at lunchtime.
Who wanted to work on a day like this? Outside, the first fireworks began to sound at 1pm. Perhaps they were bought for use ahead of kick-off; more likely they were intended to mark goals, but used up as excitement gripped their owners early on.
The media did little to calm the mood. “#WeAreAllBrazilians” read the front page of sports daily Lance!, while talking heads on Brazilian television were unanimous in predicting a win for the Seleção.
The country had waited seven years for this. 64, even, since the last World Cup here. There was no danger of them failing to embrace the moment. 
Then the anthem. Thiago Silva with tears in his eyes. Julio Cesar in pieces. Huge. Just huge.
If the game didn’t quite live up to the billing, it wasn’t half bad. In terms of drama, if not quality, at least.
The result, of course, was all that mattered for the hosts, and you sense Luiz Felipe Scolari would have taken a far uglier victory than the one he got.
As the final whistle went, another volley of fireworks echoed round the neighbourhood.
Then the car horns started. The party is underway.



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