so we like the weather and we are also delighted with the people’s hospitality here,” said Sydney bricklayer David Fitzharris. “It’s our third WC and the most enjoyable one so far, we’ve planned it for about a year.”
Seeing is believing
Francisco Quesada, a school teacher from Santiago, came to Cuiaba to see Chile play world champions Spain on Friday. “This is a really nice city,” he said. “In Chile, we heard there were going to be lots of protests against the World Cup and crime, and really we have had a different and surprising experience here.”
There has been some crime committed against foreign fans, certainly, as experienced by Paris teacher Thomas Drouilleau — the leader of a party of 38 kids in Salvador for two weeks to take in France’s match against Switzerland on Friday. “We had one of our party have his cell phone stolen but we’ve found it all an incredible experience,” he said.
Fans in all of the host cities have been impressed by the reception they have received from the locals, even the legion of Argentines who poured into Rio de Janeiro for their opener against Bosnia on Sunday. Despite the fierce footballing rivalry between the two countries, the only complaint Cordoba banker Fernando Arganaraz had was the eye-watering 1,000 reais ($448.31) a day rent he was being charged for an apartment in Copacabana.
There have also been the usual problems of miscommunication — exacerbated by the paucity of English speakers in Brazil — as well as some chaotic organisation and inconveniences caused by heavy security around the stadiums. But time and again fans came back to the warm welcome they had received from Brazilians, even the followers of England whose reputation for violence has made them among the less popular tourists at previous World Cups.
“We had a football game with Brazilians on the street, we had a few too many beers though, so we lost,” Yorkshireman Harry Busby said. “People showed us around. Wouldn’t have happened the same back home, we’re not as friendly as they are.”