Brazil has seen a lot of discontent over the World Cup in the last year, mostly in the form of protesters insisting the money being spent on the games could have been put to better use, such as improving the school and health care system.
Despite that unrest, there is a decided buzz in the air here in Uberaba. Whether it’s for commercial purposes, pure national pride or a combination of both, it is authentic. It started about one month ago, with the appearance of flags in store fronts and flying from cars. Now that we are just 36 hours from the opening match between Brazil and Croatia, there is a noticeable excitement in the air.
It might surprise you to learn that there are many Brazilians who don’t give a fig about soccer. But unlike in America, where if you don’t like football, you have no idea which team is leading, here in Brazil, those uninterested in soccer still know the basics. They still know which teams are from which state and who is the favorite to win. Here in Uberaba, fireworks go off after every match.
The dozen cities hosting matches in the first round of the World Cup — especially Rio and São Paulo — are sure to be on fire right now. But the electricity here in Uberaba is contagious. There are no matches being held here, but you wouldn’t know it from the frenzy floating around town.
I wouldn’t dare to call myself a soccer fanatic in this country. But while I do love futbol, what I really get emotional over are sporting events that involve the world. (2016 Rio Olympics – whoot whoot!) Due to my work schedule, I am only able to attend the June 15 match in Brasilia between Switzerland and Ecuador. Probably not the most exciting match — but I can’t wait to experience the World Cup first hand.
Until then, here’s a glance at how Uberaba is gearing up for the kick-off on Thursday: