With almost exactly 12 months to go until the World Cup in Brazil and with tickets due to go on sale from 20th August this year (3.3 million on offer, the majority through FIFA), join Mayhem! as we board the plane to Rio (as supporters, our pleas to England boss Roy Hodgson to give us a run-out for the Three Lions with qualification not yet certain having fallen on deaf ears) and look ahead to the globe coming to a standstill for a festival of world football…
The Seven Year Itch
It was announced in 2003, that a South American nation would be hosting the World Cup for the first time since the tournament was played in Argentina in 1978, in line with a general policy of rotating the hosting rights among member confederations of FIFA. Argentina and Colombia also submitted bids to CONMEBOL (the governing body for South American football), though Brazil won the day after their rivals both dropped their proposals.
But despite a massive marketing campaign which saw the unveiling of cuddly if odd-looking armadillo mascot Fuleco, (whose species as a Brazilian three-banded armadillo, makes him ideal for the job) and a £550 million drive to remodel/rebuild existing stadiums (the famous Maracana, for example, having recently hosted a 2-2 friendly draw between the Selecao and England following its re-opening), concerns are rife around the world regarding the infrastructure of the country though the men in Rio have to date batted them away.
Pitching In With Big Phil
With Luiz Felipe Scolari re-appointed as national team boss after previous dugout incumbent Mano Menezes was given the boot following failure at the 2012 Olympics, expectation weighs heavily on the shoulders of the men in yellow – but there is optimism that the man they call ‘Big Phil’ can repeat the feats of his previous spell in charge, when he led them to victory in the final of the 2002 World Cup.
But of course it’s not all about the national team, with the league championship (the Campeonato Brasileiro) followed passionately. So, if you fancy a break with a difference before the main event, why not try taking in games at the likes of traditional league powerhouses Corinthians (www.corinthians.com.br/en/), Flamengo (www.nrnoficial.com.br/site/), Fluminense (www.fluminense.com.br/site/social/history/), Santos (www.santosfc.com.br/home.asp) or Sao Paulo (www.saopaulofc.net/)?
After all what could be better than sun, sea, and goals aplenty?
By Chris Morley