An iron beam fell on a Monorail worker in Sao Paulo today, crushing him to death at the under-construction site outside Congonhas airport. It’s on the news and everyone in the barbearia have their eyes glued to the tiny television set hanging from the ceiling. Everyone, including the barber, whose blade slices about his customer’s foamed neck almost completely on instinct.
The barbearia is on Avenida Marques de Sao Vicente, a strip that also plays host to three of the four giant football clubs in this city — Sao Paulo Futebol Clube, Sociedade Esportivo Palmeirhas and Esporte Clube Pinheiros. The first of those, SPFC, is opening its lawns to Team USA for a late afternoon training session. And, for once, I’m early.
With time to kill, I hope to catch Spain, World Cup defending champions and the side on the hottest of streaks, take on El Salvador in their final preparation game.
But the mood in the saloon is sombre and gets worse when a news flash claims that a protestor has been shot by the police in central Sao Paulo. Of course, La Roja and football can wait.
Only, here in Brazil, the second of those factors can’t. At 3:30pm sharp and bang in the middle of a developing story that had the customers gripped, Eduardo, the barbearia’s owner, changes the channel and surfs away until he lands on a program focussed on an empty training ground. “Tempo de ver a nossa Selecao.” Time to watch our boys.
Now here’s the thing. In Brazil, World Cup or not, the Selecao’s training sessions are beamed live on at least one of the many national sports channel. Today, it’s Ta Na Arena’s turn. Every minute of the hour-long session is watched, discussed and debated, quite like a live match.
On Monday, just three days before Brazil’s opening game, the training session in Teresopolis, Rio de Janerio, was a cause for panic as well, when half way through practice Neymar clutched his left ankle, and collapsed in a heap.
The barbearia gasped collectively. And for a few minutes, time and the snipping of scissors froze. “Por favor!” exclaimed one, pleading for their big hope to get up and be alright. It worked, for Neymar rose gingerly but rose nevertheless. From there on, it was a Neymar show.
When a young child stormed the field and was whisked away by the security, Brazil’s number 10 intervened. Neymar jogged up to the boy, walked him back to the pitch by hand and got his mates, David Luiz and Maicon, continued…