Brazil more surprising long-time love with football
RIO DE JANEIRO: The protests, strikes and general malaise ahead of the World Cup in Brazil have been all the more surprising given the country’s long-time love affair with football.
The winningest nation in World Cup history has the chance to win the tournament on home soil for the first time.
Yet Brazilians — the people who elevated the notion of the “beautiful game” to the level of art — have been visibly morose, spurning the green and yellow decorations that exploded into bloom during past World Cups.
Delays, overspending, corruption accusations, deadly construction accidents, protests, strikes, economic stagnation, shelved infrastructure projects, pre-election political wrangling — all have contributed to the country’s football malaise.
But after seven years of planning, the team is finally about to take the field.
And football-loving Brazilians are increasingly eager to set aside politics and unleash their pent-up excitement.
Maria de Lourdes Pereira da Silva strolled up Alzira Brandao Street in Rio de Janeiro’s Tijuca neighborhood dressed head-to-toe in green and yellow and carrying her pet rooster, Paquito Fred — who was wearing a Brazilian flag as a cape, his claws painted to match.