World Cup reflections

As usual, a highly publicised international event has arrived in my city and I’m watching it on television. Salvador’s Fonte Nova stadium has seen dramatic games and a torrent of goals. That’s likely to dry up (Fonte Nova means New Fountain in Portuguese, hence the pun) in the quarter-finals, if the round of 16 is anything to go by.

Orisha statues by Tatti Moreno (photo: Sabrina Gledhill, 2012)

Dique do Tororó with the stadium under construction in the background (photo: Sabrina Gledhill, 2012)

I had lunch on Tuesday with two American friends who were going to the USA-Belgium game later that day. I haven’t heard their feedback but the view from my TV was thrilling. That wasn’t their first World Cup match at Fonte Nova. They told me that even when the seats are way up high, they have a spectacular view – the stadium was designed to make the city’s lovely Dique do Tororó part of the scenery. However, it seems that the Baianas do Acarajé (women in traditional dress who sell Afro-Brazilian bean fritters) were nowhere in sight, although they ostensibly won their fight to overturn FIFA’s ban on their presence within a mile (or kilometer?) of the stadium. In fact, my friends have seen no street vendors whatsoever in the vicinity of Fonte Nova – and they said there were plenty during the World Cup in Germany.

Acarajé sellers demanded to be allowed to sell their wares near the stadium during the World Cup

Acarajé sellers demanded to be allowed to sell their wares near the stadium during the World Cup

They also told me that, inside the stadium, they could have been anywhere in the world. It has been entirely stripped of its Bahian and Brazilian identity for the duration. Very sad.

Another American friend informs me that there are plenty of scalpers. There is hope yet of seeing at least one game – the last one is scheduled for Saturday – but I’m not too optimistic. A seat way up in the ‘gods’ is bound to cost a minimum monthly salary, or more. I’m not sure it’s worth it, no matter how dazzling the view.

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