One England fan carried a placard in Belo Horizonte after the England vs Costa Rica game that read “Cost of getting to Brazil £1,300, the cost of hotels and travel in Brazil £3,000, the cost of arriving in Brazil after your team have been eliminated PRICELESS!!! The Brazilian government estimates 600,000 foreign tourists have made the journey and that the 12 cities hosting the event will benefit to the tune of circa R$6.7 billion (£1.78 billion). That and condom sales are up, not least the yellow and green ones in Brazil`s national colours, some actually caipirinha flavoured, they`ve sold nearly 2 million of those! I did write that Brazil`s real national sport was shagging and not football!!
I`ve been waiting on these kinds of stats to come through to start giving us a feel for how Brazil compares with previous hosts. One thing that was no surprise in a football mad nation, which is one of the most expensive places on Earth, is that Brazilian fans have bought more than half of the tickets for all the fixtures and more than the next 20 nation`s supporters put together.
Half way through there hasn`t been much to talk about other than the football! Twice the number of goals than at the same point in South Africa four years ago and plenty of fantastic games, Not least the nail biting high octane first knock out game between Brazil and Chile where I`m glad a potentially bad call by the match officials did not prevent the hosts from going on to the quarter finals; the very least the host nation expects.
The reporting of the ongoing protests in a number of Brazilian cities, alleged police brutality and overreaction in attempting to quell them, has all but disappeared from overseas media headlines. I predict this to continue unless Brazil crash out and then the hosts might well get worked up again at the cost of hosting a party from which they`ve been ejected.
But now the tournament is well under way the number of voices in Brazil arguing against wanting the national team to win for fear that the politicians’ graft and incompetence will be forgiven is diminishing. As with war, when it begins it`s `My country, right or wrong.` Most Brazilians now just pray that Mick Jagger doesn`t tip their team, as every other one he`s tipped is already out of the competition!
Buy a copy of my book, Brazil: The Good, the Bad and the Megafugly.