Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : June 13th 2014 Contents A77
Friday, June 13, 2014 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
SAO PAULO---"Tudo bem"---all
good---as the Brazilians like to say.
With a nationwide wave of
excitement but also wafts of tear
gas, the country that sees itself as
the artful soul of football but is
deeply conflicted about spending
billions of dollars on hosting its
showcase tournament kicked off
one of the most troubled World
Cups ever. It started with the home
team in an opening match in a sta-
dium that was barely ready on time.
After a funky opening ceremony
featuring J-Lo in low-cut sparkling
green and dancers dressed as trees,
Brazil s beloved national team, the
star-studded Seleção, embarked on
the extremely serious business of
conquering a sixth world title that
could assuage much---but not all---
the public anger about World Cup
spending of $11.5 billion in a nation
with tens of millions of poor.
Brazil s first opponent was Croa-
tia. The all-new Itaquerao stadium,
which suffered chronic delays and
worker deaths in its construction,
was a sea of buttercup yellow, the
color of the national team. Brazilian
fans were crossing fingers and toes
that this crop of stars will deliver
not just victory but football as art,
the "Jogo bonito"---the beautiful
game---that was the hallmark of
great Brazilian teams of the past.
The first half was everything fans
love about football---gut-wrenching,
full of passion, drama and twists.
Brazil made a nightmare start.
Brazilian defender Marcelo looked
stunned and the crowd of 61,000
wailed after he scored an own-goal
that gave Croatia an unlikely 1-0
lead after just 11 minutes.
And despite all the promises from
government officials that Brazil
would be ready, there were teething
problems at the stadium: the light-
ing failed in one corner of the sta-
dium, flickering off, on, off and then
on again in the deepening gloam.
But the gloom lifted when Ney-
mar lived up to his hype as the
team s biggest star and tied the
game for Brazil in the 29th minute,
unleashing an ear-splitting roar
from the crowd and across the
Brazilian fans call themselves
"torcidas"---derived from the Por-
tuguese word "to twist" and
describing how football puts them
through the wringer. This opening
match certainly did that.
Even the football-loving Pope
Francis got a touch of World Cup
fever. He sent a video message on
Brazilian television before the match,
saying that the world s most popular
sport can promote peace and sol-
idarity by teaching the importance
of working hard to reach goals, fair
play and teamwork, and respect and
honor for opponents.
But the party wasn t all fun-lov-
ing samba. In Sao Paulo, police fired
canisters of tear gas and stun
grenades to push back more than
300 demonstrators who gathered
along a main highway leading to
the stadium. "I m totally against
the Cup," said protester and uni-
versity student Tameres Mota.
"We re in a country where the
money doesn t go to the commu-
nity, and meanwhile we see all these
millions spent on stadiums."
Police also used tear gas against
about 300 protesters who gathered
in central Rio de Janeiro. (AP)
VATICAN CITY---Pope Francis
has a message for the World
Cup: Let football be a showcase
for teamwork and solidarity,
not an exhibition of racism and
The Argentine-born, football-
loving pope recorded a video
message that was broadcasted
on Brazilian television ahead of
yesterday s opening match
between Brazil and Croatia.
In it, Francis said football
teaches three lessons that can
promote peace and solidarity
around the world: the need to
train and work hard to reach
goals, the importance of fair play
and teamwork, and the need to
respect and honour opponents.
"To win, we must overcome
individualism, selfishness, all
forms of racism, intolerance and
manipulation of people," he said.
He said being "greedy" in foot-
ball, as in life, is an obstacle.
"Let nobody turn their back
on society and feel excluded!"
he said. "No to segregation! No
It s unclear how Francis will
keep track of Argentina s
progress in the World Cup. He
doesn t have a television in the
Vatican hotel room where he
lives, though one could certainly
be made available.
Francis, a lifelong fan of the
Buenos Aires club San Lorenzo,
has amassed an enormous col-
lection of jerseys since his elec-
tion and has met with many vis-
Back in February, Francis joked
that he might be tempted to root
for Brazil after a visiting Pres-
ident Dilma Rousseff gave him
a national team jersey signed by
football great Pele and a ball
signed by Ronaldo. Rousseff
asked at the very least for neu-
In his message, Francis said
he hoped the World Cup would
be a "festival of solidarity
"Sport is not only a form of
entertainment, but also---and
above all I would say---a tool to
communicate values that pro-
mote the good that is in humans
and help build a more peaceful
and fraternal society," he said.
Brazilian singer Claudia Leitte, left, US singer Jennifer Lopez and rapper Pitbull perform during the opening ceremony ahead of the group A World Cup
soccer match between Brazil and Croatia, the opening match of the tournament, in the Itaquerao Stadium in Sao Paulo, Brazil, yesterday.
It's finally here
Tudo bem as Jogo Bonito kicks off
Pope says overcome racism, greed in sport
A fan reacts as she watches
the match between Brazil and
Croatia on a giant screen
during the FIFA Fan Fest on
Copacabana beach in Rio de
Janeiro, Brazil, yesterday.
Croatia fell 3-1 to the five-time
champion Brazil. AP PHOTO
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