Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : June 22nd 2014 Contents RIO DE JANEIRO---In the
weeks leading up to the World
Cup, reports of strikes, demon-
strations, unfinished stadiums
and inevitable traffic problems
dominated the news. But since
the first match kicked off on
June 12, goal-filled games,
superstar performances and
upsets have delighted fans---
particularly those from Latin
By Sunday night, 32 of the 64
matches will have been played.
Nearly halfway through this
World Cup, The Associated
Press takes a look at how things
have stacked up so far.
Tourists have complained
about muggings and pickpock-
ets, but overall the safety for
fans so far has been solid. Brazil s
reputation for violence---a United
Nations report says the country
has more annual murders than
any other---has many fans on
high alert and taking special care
of where they travel.
There have been incidents of
gunfire near areas where fans
are watching matches or staying,
but none targeting World Cup
tourists. The clashes between
drug gangs and police that often
result in shootouts have been
muted in Rio---as has often been
the case during big events.
The mass demonstrations that
sent millions into the streets
during last year s Confederations
Cup tournament have not reap-
peared, and the scattered
protests have mostly been dis-
persed quickly by police.
Despite transportation strikes
leading up to the World Cup,
subways in Sao Paulo and Rio
de Janeiro have efficiently carried
fans to matches. The other host
cities rely on roadways, and
they ve been congested. That s
normal for Brazil s metropolitan
areas. Pele himself complained
that he missed the first half of
the Brazil vs Mexico match
because his car was stuck in
traffic on his way to a viewing
party in Sao Paulo.
Brazil s airports have handled
the load of tourists travelling
around the continent-sized
nation although there have been
complaints of delays and can-
The state of the stadiums was
a major concern before the tour-
nament started. The stadiums
have performed better than
expected, but not without some
problems. A rickety staircase at
the Maracana was repaired after
video showed it swaying under
thousands of fans.
The grass at the Manaus sta-
dium looked a little dry before
the games, but wasn t a huge
problem. Some stadiums have
had long queues to get through
security. Most alarmingly, more
than 100 Chilean fans in Rio
broke into the Maracana, getting
past security and damaging a
media centre before being cor-
Goal-line technology was
introduced at the World Cup for
the first time and was an instant
hit, being used at least twice in
the opening rounds of compe-
tition to rule if the ball had
crossed the line for a goal or not.
The technology was introduced
after the World Cup four years
In Brazil, seven video cameras
are trained on each goal, able to
tell with a margin of error of 1.5
mm if the ball has crossed the
five-inch wide goal line. The
first goal to be given using the
new technology made the score
2--0 to France against Honduras.
The word "GOAL" flashed up
on the referee s wristwatch and
the goal was given.
Teething problems annoyed
the Honduras players and FIFA
promised to have a look at some
details of what the public got to
see, but there was widespread
belief that the technology had
removed one of the most con-
troversial elements of the game
and made referees task much
Soccer has well and truly
entered the age of technology.
It s not just 22 players running
around after a ball any more. At
this World Cup, most of the
teams are using all sorts of high-
tech devices to manage their
players. The players can be wire-
lessly monitored during games
and practice. A widget in the
jerseys transmits heartbeat and
other medical data to the coach-
es who monitor on iPads and
can tell when a player is peaking
A chip in players boots trans-
mits distance run and speeds to
the benches as well. One shoe
manufacturer has introduced a
boot weighing just 99 grammes
and millions have been spent
developing what FIFA calls the
perfect ball. The ball itself has
even attracted almost two mil-
lion Twitter followers.
High-tech jerseys are made
to combat the heat of Brazil.
One of the biggest success sto-
ries of the Cup has been intro-
duction of Vanishing Spray
applied by the referee to a line
ten yards from where a free kick
is due to be taken. In the past,
a wall of players intended to
block the kick would often sneak
forward toward the ball, but the
referee now marks out ten yards
and uses an aerosol to apply a
white line that vanishes after 30
minutes or so. Defenders are
banned from crossing the white
line and players have obeyed the
Fans from all over the world
have come to the homeland of
"jogo bonito" and the over-
whelming reaction in the stands,
in the streets and on social
media has been positive. Fans
have enjoyed the hospitality, the
weather, the food and drink and
the sites of Brazil.
Latin American neighbours
have particularly enjoyed the
tournament, in part because
their teams are doing very well.
Fans from Chile, Argentina,
Colombia, Uruguay, Ecuador
and Mexico have packed stadi-
ums and belted out their nation-
al anthems proudly. Even the
United States---which has had a
tiny fan base at some recent
World Cups---has sent a large
and vocal crew of supporters,
taking over Natal when the US
played in that coastal city.
The biggest complaint from
fans has been about the price
of scalped tickets.
The games have been excel-
lent, with some saying the early
group games have been among
the best in World Cup history.
Teams have played aggressively,
and there have been just a hand-
ful of draws. Trailing teams have
made comebacks, and a several
upsets have captivated TV audi-
ences around the world.
Superstars such as Neymar,
Robin Van Persie and Lionel
Messi have played well. Although
there were a handful of ques-
tionable calls, most games were
decided by the players, not ref-
erees. Although a couple of
European powers--- Spain and
England---were eliminated early,
fans in most of the world have
enjoyed the goals and the games.
June 22, 2014 www.guardian.co.tt Sunday Guardian
Alves slams Shearer
Brazil right back Dani Alves has turned on former
England captain Alan Shearer for criticising striker
Fred, saying his comments as reported by Brazilian
media are "idiotic".
Shearer reportedly told Brazilian media that Fred
is not the right striker for Brazil and that the hosts
seem to be playing with a man down when Fred is
on the field.
"These are some of the most idiotic comments
that we can hear," Alves said. "Especially coming
from someone who played, who knows football
and understands the difficulties of competing, of
scoring goals or making plays."
Shearer reportedly told the UOL Web site that
"Fred is holding Brazil back" and "can't be the
striker of Brazil's national team" in a World Cup.
"He doesn't move, he doesn't help the team,"
Shearer was quoted as saying. "It looks like Brazil is
playing with ten men all the time."
Kompany fit to play
Just working out on the grass of Maracana was
sheer happiness for Vincent Kompany yesterday,
especially after a groin strain had kept the Belgian
captain out for three days. Now, he says he's fit to
fulfill his childhood dream of playing a World Cup
match in one of the world's most famous stadiums.
Making things even better is the fact that a win
against Russia today would put the World Cup into
the knockout phase after just two games.
Kompany said that the come-from-behind 2--1
win over Algeria on Tuesday "should give us confi-
dence for the rest of the tournament" and give Bel-
gium the courage to dominate play and look for
victory against Russia.
He will have to keep a cool head though and keep
the emotion of playing at Maracana from over-
Any victory for Belgium will do, said Kompany.
Cristiano Ronaldo is expected to play for Portu-
gal against the United States at the World Cup
today despite a left knee injury.
Portugal midfielder Raul Meireles says Ronaldo
is "fit to play. That's all I can say."
On Friday at the team's training base in Camp-
inas, Ronaldo again wore a brace on his trouble-
some left knee.
With Ronaldo healthy, the Portuguese would be
favoured to beat the Americans and give them-
selves a chance to advance to the second round
after an opening loss to Germany.
But without the world player of the year, Portu-
gal is facing the very real possibility of an early exit
from Group G.
De Rossi to miss
Italy's team physician says midfielder Daniele De
Rossi will "probably" miss Tuesday's key World Cup
match against Uruguay due to an injured calf mus-
cle.Enrico Castellacci says that De Rossi was injured
during the second half of Friday's 1--0 loss to Costa
Rica and needs "several days" to recover.
De Rossi played a full 90 minutes but was seen
limping after the match.
Castellacci adds that fullback Mattia De Sciglio is
ready to return from a thigh muscle injury after
missing the Azzurri's opening two matches.
Italy needs at least a draw against Uruguay to
advance from Group D.
The Azzurri are already without midfielder Ric-
cardo Montolivo, who broke his leg in a pre-tourna-
ment warm-up match.
Andrea Parolo could be a possible replacement
for De Rossi.
upsets delight fans
The World Cup so far...
French soccer fans in costume
run with a large replica of the
World Cup trophy as they arrive
to Arena Fonte Nova for their
team's World Cup match with
Switzerland in Salvador, Brazil,
Friday. AP PHOTO
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