Fri. Nov 25th, 2022
A Brazilian fan watches the TV Muro broadcast of the Qatar 2022 World Cup Group G football match between Brazil and Serbia in Sabara, Brazil, on November 24, 2022.  - According to its founder, Chiquinho do Povo, TV Muro is the smallest TV station in the world, and this is the seventh time they aired the Wall Cup.  (Photo: DOUGLAS MAGNO / AFP)

A Brazilian fan watches the TV Muro broadcast of the Qatar 2022 World Cup Group G football match between Brazil and Serbia in Sabara, Brazil, on November 24, 2022. (AFP)

RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil – In their fresh-from-carnival yellow-green bikinis, Neymar jerseys and sparkly tops, the Brazilians gave up on Thursday to watch the national team explode in celebration of their much-anticipated World Cup debut and opening win.

Normally in the middle of a workday, fans of all ages, who had gathered in front of a giant screen on Rio de Janeiro’s famous Copacabana beach, applauded Brazil’s 2-0 football victory over Serbia and allowed themselves to have a record-longing dream. A sixth World Cup title could be on the horizon.

Benildo Ferreira, a construction worker standing on the beach street wearing the Brazilian jersey, burst into joy after Tottenham Hotspur striker Richarlison scored the second of two goals.

Ferreira, 51, told AFP “I was worried” during the goalless halftime as fireworks exploded above us.

But Brazil will make it to the final and we will win.”

It was an agonizing wait for many in football-mad Brazil, whose fiery passion during the World Cup is often compared to a nation at war.

Milton de Souza nervously mixed his caipirinha at a beach bar as he awaited the opening goal.

“We just have to be patient,” said the 58-year-old retiree, who wears green and yellow like almost the whole country.

He was wary of whether “Selecao” could end his 20-year championship stint.

“Nothing is certain in football.”

Others were already daring to dream.

“The trophy is undoubtedly ours this year,” said 23-year-old Marcos Vinicius, who correctly predicted a Richarlison corset before the game.

ghost towns

Meanwhile, urban centers in Rio, São Paulo and other centers of Latin America’s biggest economy have turned into ghost towns as Brazil stopped to watch the game.

Kaua Suarez, a 19-year-old street food vendor, and three customers had gathered around a cell phone she had propped against a hot dog stand to watch the game in Rio’s nearly deserted downtown.

“I had to study, so I found a way to watch it anyway. I’m going to watch every game no matter what time it is,” he said.

“Football is the dream of every slum boy in Brazil. We’re crazy about it. Brazilians are born loving football.”

Even elected president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva took a break from the political horse trade to watch before his January 1 inauguration ceremony.

He tweeted a photo of himself and his wife wearing national team jerseys, a TV in the background, with the message: “Congratulations Brazil. We’re on our way to the sixth title!”

politics is enough

Meanwhile, the small army of vendors selling jerseys, flags, scarves, hats and countless other World Cup gear were happy that Lula’s win in Brazil’s divisive October election had finally ended the taboo of wearing yellow and green, the colors that had defeated the far right. President Jair Bolsonaro and his supporters embraced it as their own.

“People were resilient. “They really waited until the last minute to buy (yellow and green gear) due to the political situation,” said Giselle de Freitas, 41, a salesman who sells lots of earrings, tiaras and other accessories in Copacabana.

For many, the World Cup fever eventually prevailed.

But not for everyone.

Osvaldo Alves, a frail 74-year-old hotel concierge with his thinning white hair and a bright red uniform, was one of the few who didn’t watch the game.

“When ‘Selecao’ is played, the country always drops everything. “We sit there and watch football and we don’t solve any problems,” he said.

“It’s a disease that Brazil has. Brazilians are crazy about football.”


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