Tag Archives: Football

Argentina and Uruguay to host 2030 World Cup?

9 Oct

Very exciting news that Argentina and Uruguay have put forward tentative plans to host the 2030 World Cup. Their main hope with the bid is that the organisers won’t be able to resist the temptation of hosting the tournament on its centennial year at the place where it all began. That final of that first ever tournament in 1930 was contested between Uruguay and Argentina at the Estadio Centenario in Montevideo. There is no way Uruguay could hold a World Cup these days so it makes perfect sense to propose a joint bid with Argentina, whose Estadio Monumental (home of River Plate), Estadio Gigante (home of Rosario Central), Estadio Ciudad de la Plata, the potentially refurbished La Bombonera (the chocolate box, Boca Juniors home) and at least five other stadiums, off the top of my head, with a capacity of over 40,000, would instantly be ready for hosting a tournament.

After announcing the bid on 30th May Argentina and Uruguay have received the unanimous backing of their fellow CONMEBOL nations and then submitted the bid formally to FIFA when Sepp Blatter visited Colombia in September. He was presented with the bid document as well as a shirt made up from the two nations’ national team shirts with the phrase ‘history unites – sport too’ included in the presentation box. This is what it looked like:

The only problem I could see the bid as ever having trouble would be if the Brazil Would Cup in 2014 proved to be an absolute failure, souring the idea of having another World Cup in South America for some time. It is also in Argentina and Uruguay’s favour that the rule of one tournament in Europe followed by one worldwide will work in their favour. It looks likely that either England or Russia will host the 2018 World Cup. Following that, Australia, Japan and Qatar are all in the running for 2022 (with the amount of money that Qatar are pouring into the game it’s very easy to see them getting that one) which will be followed by another European tournament. Personally, I think that could be a nailed on Spain/Portugal World Cup 2026, though obviously there are a few politics in the way of that one.

It would be great for the Centenario to host another World Cup Final, especially since the Uruguayans are still talking about their Semi-Final appearance in South Africa; it would definitely bring a lot of joy to the nation.

The horrific case of Brazilian goalkeeper Bruno Souza

3 Aug

In what’s becoming something of a regular feature I am taking a look at another horrendous murder case in Brazil. This time it is the turn of Bruno Fernandes de Souza (generally shortened to Bruno Souza) who has now been charged for the murder of his new baby’s mother, Eliza Silva Samudio. She had slept with Bruno Souza at an orgy over a year ago. Amongst protestations from Bruno and his family she decided to have the child. Bruno had been married to another woman during this whole episode. Three months after the baby was born Eliza Samudio disappeared and slowly the story has begun to unravel that she was kidnapped by Bruno and his family, including his wife, and taken to their home near Belo Horizonte. Claims are that she was strangled to death, then chopped up and fed to the dogs. Police still have found no trace of the body yet are certain of the circumstances of the case, as noted in AFP’s report of the case.

“Forensic police will prove that Eliza is dead,” the officer in charge of the investigation, Edson Moreira, said. He added that inquiries were continuing to bolster evidence and attempt to find the body. Seven other people, including an ex-policeman suspected of carrying out the premeditated murder on Souza’s orders, have also been charged. Souza’s wife was among them.

This has been one of the most shocking news stories in Brazil for quite a while. Mainly due to the fact that Bruno Souza was a huge public figure thanks to being the number one for Flamengo, a team that won the Brazilian championship as recently as 2009. He had also at times been the captain of the side, one of the most heavily-supported teams in Brazil. It would be the equivalent of Peter Cech or Edwin Van Der Sar getting arrested for murder if it happened in England!

from the beach to the city

29 Mar

The time had finally arrived, time to leave Trindade. Goodbye to days spent meandering between the beach and a bean bag. There really is no comparison between going to the park in the morning or for a swim in the ocean, which is why I am now sitting in this Sao Paulo hostel feeling a little confused by life. I just wish everything was simpler. Need to buy some cake? Go to the corner shop. Need to buy some cachaca? Go to the corner shop. Ice? Corner shop. How about a drink? The beach. A swim? Beach. You get the idea, for the last four weeks I’ve only ever had about four options for all my day-to-day goings-ons (although this is slightly a lie seeing as beach in Trindade means about seven different beaches and going for a swim could be the sea or the river). Now I have a multitude of options, Sao Paolo is the third biggest city in the world, and truth is I think it’s swallowing me up!

It’s a good job then that I had some kind of clear objective for when I arrived here. Last time I came I just wanted to discover a little of Sao Paulo. Without any particular aim this is kind of tricky. I meandered between museums and fruit markets, which dazzled my eyes for short interludes, but then when I got back on the street, took my map out and got metro’d away to another stop, I was none the wiser for where I had been or even if I knew what the hell this place is. I am still struggling to find out its identity, and am increasingly thinking it has none. Whereas Rio seems to act as the first point as Brazil starts to become more Northern (despite being geographically in the South), where the african influence begins to have a greater say over colonial memories, Sao Paulo is outweighed by the feeling of being very Southern. With my newly-Trindade-assisted-tan I look more Brazilian than many of these chalky-white Brazilians walking the streets (although strangely I’ve been asked if I am Italian three times in the last two days).

Truth is that maybe everyone living in this city are here to party and/or work, neither of which are things that I feel inclined to do. Work is definitely out of favour at the moment, and money is too low to think about spending it on club entrance fees or over-priced caipirinhas. My job here is to find vinyl records and go to a football game. Both of which have been achieved quite successfully. I now have a rucksack weighed down by old MPB (Brazilian pop music), thanks to record fayres, various flea markets and a gallery (Galeria Nova Barao) that is filled with vinyl record shops – Sao Paulo is definitely a great place to buy records! Out of three records that I dreamed of owning I managed to get two. Tropicalia – Ou Panis et Circensis and Os Novos Baianos’ Acabou Chorare are now officially mine, Jorge Ben’s Africa Brasil unfortunately the one that got away.

On the football side I got lucky that the Sao Paulo classic was taking place, Corinthians v Sao Paulo, which meant the chance to see Ronaldo and Roberto Carlos playing live for the first time in my life. There seemed to be something else on Ronaldo’s mind but Roberto Carlos didn’t look too far off his former glories, speeding down the left at every opportunity and setting up one goal with a free kick that was too hot for the keeper to handle. Corinthians took a 2-1 lead into half-time, along with a one-man advantage as one of the Sao Paulo managed to get sent off for some ridiculous foul which I never got the chance to see because I was still celebrating Corinthians last goal. Corinthians then made it 3-1 before inexplicably Sao Paulo lofted over two free kicks in 5 minutes to bring it level. As the atmosphere in the Corinthians end started to turn sour and I was starting to feel like I really didn’t want to be there they got the winner in the last minute. An absolute classic!

And that’s about it. Today I head off to Rio for a final few days before the big plane heads into the sky and takes me away from this place.

Jose Andrade, The Black Marvel

1 Feb

'The Black Pearl'

I’ve been looking into the history of Uruguayan football over the last few days as we scurry around to get UruguayNow ready for public consumption (less than a week to go!). Unfortunately my favourite story won’t be featured but it’s one I really want to tell so, I’m gonna tell it right here!

First off, a bit of background. Uruguay were the first team to ever feature black players in an international game, international tournament and in the World Cup. In 1916 they took two black players, both great grandchildren of slaves, to Chile and the tournament that would become the Copa America. When they defeated Chile 4-0, with Gradín, one of the black players, having an absolute blinder, Chile asked that the game be anulled. Their reason; because Uruguay had black players in the team. Notion ignored, Uruguay went on to win the tournament. When they went to Brazil in 1919 for another Copa America it was the first time that many of the black population in Brazil had seen a player of their own colour. Slavery had only been abolished in 1885 (fifty years after Uruguay, and England) and Brazil were well behind in terms of integration. Black players were completely banned from their leagues in 1910 and even when they were allowed to join a few years later they had to put rice powder on their faces so that the supporters wouldn’t realise. Flamengo, current champions in the Brazilian league, wouldn’t have a single black player on their books until 1936. Uruguay were well ahead of their time and Gradín who played in that tournament in Brazil became a massive hero, in particular, for Pelé.

After that, Uruguay found a new hero, a guy called José Andrade. He could play as a fullback, through the middle or on the wings, and having grown up on the streets, had a catalogue of crafty skills. In 1924 Uruguay went to Paris for the Olympics. They were the first team from South America to compete and absolutely stormed the competition. European football was all about strength and brawn, and this was something else entirely, they breezed through their opposition, scoring goal after goal. It is often thought that this is the beginning of modern football where the street skills of South America met the more tactical approach of Europe. José Andrade became a phenomenom during this tournament, being dubbed the ‘Black Marvel’ and the ‘Black Pearl.’ After the tournament ended he stayed in Paris where he became a fixture of the bohemian and cabaret circuit that was so popular at this time, showing off all the things he had learnt during Carnival in Montevideo. He was a master on the drums, violin and tambourine. He was also a complete alcoholic, which would eventually be his undoing.

Jose Leandro Andrade
This is Andrade serving up a couple of beers behind the bar

Uruguay would go on to win the 1928 Olympics and 1930 World Cup, both with Andrade in the side. It’s one of the things I really like about Uruguay, there seemed to be less division between classes. Even in the height of the slave trade whites would go down to the promenade where the blacks would be dancing and playing drums, and they would join in. The same seems to have happened with football. It was brought over by the English in the late 19th century but as soon as the teams (who were first constituted of bunches of students or railway workers or German immigrants) began letting anyone join they really did let anyone, as opposed to the Brazilians, and I’m sure many other nations.

The Bimbo Cup

18 Jan

Unfortunately there were no bimbos at the Bimbo Cup, but it did prove to be a great evening. First off, Danubio trounced Nacional (Paraguay) 5-2 in the opening game with some nice goals too! The real reason for the evening was always going to be Peñarol v Nacional though, and this started to show about halfway through the first game when the stadium started to fill with Peñarol and Nacional fans who started to chant at each other. I felt kind of sorry for the players left playing football on the field as nobody seemed to be really interested in what they were doing. The fans were just warming themselves for what was to come, which would be El Clasico. Which, despite, this just being a friendly, would not be just a friendly, there was pride at stake after all. In the end, the game proved not to be too much of a swashbuckling affair and finished goalless. Peñarol should have won it though after a number of one-on-one’s with the goalkeeper which they conspired to miss. This meant the game went to penalties and Nacional inevitably won. I managed to actually get some video footage of the final winning penalty and the celebrations won. It’s somewhat low-key by South American standards but at least shows how many people there were in the stadium and how much both sets of fans wanted to celebrate the final whistle, Nacional for their victory and Peñarol for their team’s efforts, especially considering their team has generally been the worse of the two in the recent past.

Christmas far from home

15 Jan

When I first decided that I would stay in South America over Christmas I have to admit I was a little concerned that maybe I would miss it. Now that all festivities have passed and we are well into the swing of January there is no doubt that it was the right move and I would recommend everyone from England to book a flight and get the hell of that island next time Santa comes round, and not even just for the week of Christmas, the two weeks before and after too!

The lack of pressures is an absolute delight. No need to worry about co-ordinating those work-related Xmas parties, having to contend with the thousands of presents getting stuffed in your eyeholes via the tv, newspapers, Internet, shop window and whatever other surface happens to be facing in your direction between October and December, but most of all, the ability to get the hell out of the house. The ability to go to the beach, go to a poolside party, have a couple of beers in the park, these are the sort of things we should be doing when we have two weeks off work, not sat inside our houses watching 3-hour long episodes of Coronation Street and finding out the exact point when your body is ready to vomit from eating too many nut truffles. It’s such a waste of free time!

Now we’re two weeks into January and the fact that not one single person I have spoken to has mentioned a resolution of any kind, no diets, no yoga videos, no gym memberships or anything else that basically relates to the marketing of health-related products to people sitting on couches, stuffed with turkey and chocolate. Everyone actually seems pretty happy and in fact are more preoccupied with getting out to the beach while they have some free time than anything else.

God, I ended up ranting a little bit there. I do apologise! In a slightly diagonal note, I now have a camera after both my camera and mp3 player broke. I forked out for a multi-functional mp3/mp4/camera/voice-recorder thing-a-me-job. I figured it should be christened with a couple of photos. So here goes:

So this is the first one, just a quick shot of my current pad, up on there on the eighth floor. It’s the balcony just before the top.


And more importantly. This is my ticket to the Bimbo Cup, taking place tonight. I have been reliably informed there will be at least 70,000 bimbos in attendance. This seems like an adequate number. More interestingly, though, is the fact that I will get to see two football matches. The first, Danubio, featuring a ridiculously over-weight Alvaro Recoba, against Nacional, current champions of Paraguay, and the second, Nacional v Penarol, just about one of the biggest rivalries in football, or it would be if these two teams hadn’t been pretty rubbish for the last 20 years. Anyway, normally it is sold out. Stupidly, I forgot to buy a ticket before today and had to pay for the expensive seat. A whopping 5 pounds! It would have been 3 quid if I had acted faster.

My ticket to the bimbo cup!
My ticket to the Bimbo Cup

walking around in my pants

6 Jan

It’s taken me a little while longer than I wanted to wake up from this haze. As stated before, Buenos Aires is dangerous over the Christmas period, especially when you’re sleeping on the floor in a mosquito breeding ground, being consistently woken up by a Brazilian ‘meditating’ in the adjoining room and a crazy Dutchman who doesn’t seem to realise that stepping on someone while he’s sleeping is not entirely necessary.

I’ve been in Montevideo now since late on Friday night and have been in my new apartment since Sunday. It’s the first time I’ve ever had a place to myself and found it very easy to slip into the regime of walking around in my pants the whole time. It does help that I’m on the eighth floor and also that the temperature is excruciating at times. I’m not sure I would get away with this behaviour in Sneinton. I have no doubt Chardonnay would have already started shouting abuse at me by now and that maybe even Terry would have begun to question my judgement.

It’s so nice to actually have a job right now that doesn’t involve solely designing a web site. Actually means that I have the impulse to get out there and do some research. I am in charge of writing about football and music for the new site, as well as writing a few hostel/bar reviews. Any reason to go out for a beer basically.

At the moment we just have a holding page, http://www.uruguaynow.com but soon it should be something quite nice indeed I hope.

Right, now I need some sun! Ciao!

Spreading the good will

8 Aug

Rio de Janeiro is an amazing place. I have never been to a city of this size where people are quite so friendly. It’s almost like it’s got a small-town mentality. People speak to you in the streets and shops and generally want to say hello, if not sneak in a handshake or a kiss on either cheek. Meeting people from the favelas makes it even more convincing, they are generally some of the warmest people you can meet.

I haven’t been to many large cities where the people are so friendly. London, Buenos Aires, Barcelona and Berlin all have their moments, but none of them quite have the goodwill of the Cariocas (the name for people from Rio). I think it is because they have such a bad image, the people are constantly trying to prove that it’s a good city, that it’s not just a place of violence and beaches. This is my theory anyway. People in the other cities don’t need to prove anything. People arrive with high hopes that they will like the city and will generally be disappointed. In Rio, people arrive expecting to be robbed, and then get robbed. It’s worth taking the risk though, to get to know the people. The key is to make sure that if you are robbed you don’t lose much.

Now I just need to prove the theory, which means making Israel or Islamabad my next stop. I would be very surprised if the people there didn’t turn out to be some of the friendliest folk around.

In football news, tomorrow is Flamengo v Corinthians. Which potentially meant Ronaldo returning to his boyhood club, the club where he trained at the start of the season until suddenly Corinthians had the money and he switched sides. However, he fell over on his hand, breaking it in the process (he is still carrying a substantial amount of weight, it’s almost surprising the whole arm didn’t break in two) and will miss it. I think he did it on purpose. The Flamengo fans had been knitting Judas banners since the fixtures had been announced. It would have been a horrible experience for him. Now, they will have to wait a year. In the meantime we get to see Adriano, which is at least one great from the game. My money is on a Flamengo upset.

The Rooster comes out on top!

22 Jul

After Estudiantes made their comeback from 1-0 down to seal the Copa Libertadores with a 2-1 victory (mostly thanks to Veron, who was awesome on the night), the whole colour of Belo Horizonte changed. All shouts of ‘zeiro’ had been replaced with ‘galo (Atletico´s nickname)‘, blue scarves and flags had been replaced with black and white and I was no longer able to see the southern cross anymore (Cruzeiro means southern cross in Portuguese, and this emblem was everywhere before the game). Plus, the streets were filled with Brazilians wearing bald wigs, goatee beards and Estudiantes shirts, all in the name of Veron; Estudiantes´ hero from the previous night. Blue tombstones lined the streets.

I had been to the Mineiraõ before the Cruzeiro game to get a feel of the atmosphere and was now returning for the Atletico-Saõ Paulo game. The atmosphere was almost identical. If anything, the Atletico fans were more ebullient! It was if they had won the Libertadores.

Atletico´s nickname ´galo´means rooster, and boy do they love that rooster. He came running out before the game, smacked his rooster flag in the middle of the pitch and started to boogie. Understandably, the crowd went nuts! Everything the rooster did was received with fever pitch hollers. He really knows how to get the crowd going.

When the game started, it took Atletico 1 minute to open the scoring. They dominated and should have won by much more than the 2-o it ended up, but the fans wouldn´t have cared what the score was, this was their chance to party. Their neighbours had been cruelly denied a trophy and they were out to enjoy it.

Instead of watching Cruzeiro lose the Libertadores final and 300 Reais from my own pocket, I got to go to a better party with what for me, are the real football fans in Belo Horizonte, and only spend 5 Reais. I think I got the better deal, and the rooster most definitely seals it!

Dead End Dreamer

16 Jul

One week ago I had arrived in Piriapolis on the Southern coast of Uruguay. It had been raining all day, the sun had set and mist had begun to creep in. The only hostel in town was closed and so I walked around asking people for a cheap place to stay. Eventually I found a room above a little restaurant, with an unbelievably friendly waiter, Santo, who recommended highly the milanesa; one huge piece of meat in 2 bread rolls with salad and chips. The room was small with one wall completely dedicated to damp. The puddles that lined the staircase were some indication that this place was not being maintained to the highest standards. But it was cheap. I put down my bags, turned on the oil heater (maybe that will get rid of the damp) and ordered the milanesa downstairs. Santo brought over 2 plates, one featuring a huge piece of meat covered with chips, the other smaller plate with 3 of the tiniest bread rolls I had ever seen. I looked at Santo with confusion, his previous enthusiasm regarding this dish had well and truly disappeared. I picked up the newspaper and went straight to the sports. It was the third time Nacional were going to play Defensor in the space of the week. The first 2 had been draws and they had to keep going until someone wins. Then once one of the teams win they do exactly the same at the other teams ground. If that other team wins, they then do this whole thing again at a neutral ground until there is a champion. I considered going to Montevideo to watch one of the games, but figured that I could be there for weeks just waiting for the Champion to be announced (in the end it took 2 weeks for Nacional to win 2 out of 5 games and seal the title). The other game happening that night was Estudiantes vs Cruzeiro in the first leg of the Copa Libertadores final. I had considered going to one of the games but decided that La Plata in Argentina and Belo Horizonte in Brazil were just too far away. I thought about Piriapolis, about the damp room, the shoddy milanesa, the mist that meant it was impossible to see the sea even when your toes were in the water, and then I thought about North Brazil.

The next day I packed my bags, it was time to watch some football. I still had 6 days which meant I got to go see my friend Fernando in Treinta y Tres (my arrival was timed with that of the bakeries which meant I left with a bag full of dulce de leche-filled delights, always a bonus) and also stop in Curitiba for a couple of days (this place is know as the green capital of Brazil, so I wanted to see what the fuss was about). I had sent out a few messages regarding the Libertadores final and had found 2 people willing to buy me a ticket and give it to me when I got there. I chose the most enthusiastic of the 2 and felt quietly confident it would work out. It was not to be though. All of the tickets had been sold in 3 hours, people had queued for 24 hours just to get one and had still failed. On getting to Belo Horizonte (BH) I asked almost every person I met if they had a spare ticket. They didn´t. The touts were charging around 300 Reais for a 80 Real ticket and I really didn´t want to pay it. Through my whole process of trying to buy a ticket though I had realised one thing, that the real football fans were the supporters of Atletico Mineiro (Cruzeiro´s arch rivals). They were the ones who knew the most about football, they had the team with all the heritage but didn´t have the money to produce good teams as regularly as Cruzeiro, who seem to have one corrupt businessman as their President. So in the end I watched it in a pub surrounded by Atletico Mineiro fans and we cheered for Estudiantes, who eventually won. This was a bit of a shame as the party atmosphere that had been pulsing through BH all day had now dissipated completely, but I was also glad that they didn´t have to make my way through the stadium and back into the city with a load of angry Cruzeiro fans.

The game was last night. Tonight, Atletico play Sao Paulo. The price is 5 Reais, in the same 70,000 seater stadium and I get to watch it with real football fans. I think it was worth making the 2,000km trip just for this.