Sunday, May 4, 2014

Bad Omens for the World's Cup

Today's Globo reveals that 60% of the hotel rooms set aside for the Cup in São Paulo are empty. In other cities, the vacancies total between 30-40%. Only Rio seems to be OK, with a mere 10% vacancy rate. In Rio, however, the SAARA popular market - which normally sells Cup kitsch at an astonishing rate during this period - is a desert.

Last night, coming home from a brief expedition to Balcony Bar on Copa, my taxi driver - an elderly carioca who's seen many Cups come and go - made a very significant observation:

"We're a month away from the Cup, boy, and do you see any decorations in the street? NOTHING! The Top Hats [slang term for the waelthy owners of Brazil's football teams] might be saying they're'll be a Cup and sure, there will be games.

"But the population's decided differently. We aren't having a Cup."

This  morning, my mother-in-law, Dona Wanda Silva, made the exact same observation, independently.

The taxi driver was also CERTAIN that the fix was in: given the international outrage this Cup has generated, there's no way they can afford to have Brazil NOT win.

"It'll be just like France in '88 or Argentina in '78. There will be a miraculous victory for Brazil. God himself will come down from on high and point His finger at our team. That is the only way they'll be able to recover some enthusiasm for this whole sorry business. They're planning it now. Just you wait and watch, boy."

When the 70 year olds are making these sorts of observations, I'm inclined to believe them.

So for the first time in my life, I will be rooting AGAINST Brazil. No  offence.

It may be that the most telling sign of revolt against the FIFA World's Cup 2014 will not be masses of people rioting in the streets: it will be the Brazilian population's thunderous silence.