THAT WAS THE WORLD CUP…!

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The party is over. The hangover is already unbearable… This 2014 World Cup may turn out to be the most entertaining ever. For all practical matters, it was a total popular success… The final was attended by an estimated 3.5 billion TV spectators, and generated a record of 280 million interactions on Facebook.  For the entire month, everything went hardly without hitch…

The only snag was the opening ceremony with Pitbull, J-Lo and Claudia Leite. It  was thematically and artistically inappropriate. FIFA official song for the competition just did not fit. Who chose that rigmarole? What were they thinking?

On Sunday, the closing ceremony fixed it all up. It was a spectacle high in elegance and artistry. Wycleff Jean was there; he did what the Haitian football team could not do; he qualified for the World Cup final. Also performed Shakira, Carlos Santana, Carlinos Brown (Timbalada), Ivete Sangalo, Rihanna, a plateau of beautiful Brazilian women, and some  more…

In the stand, there were heads of states and governments, such as Angela Merkel, Cristina Kirchner, Vladimir Putin, and Dilma Roussef.  Beside the FIFA officials and the executives from the regional confederations, the A-list of the world of sport and entertainment was in attendance, we saw the faces of James Lebron, Gisele Bundchen and Tom Brady… Did you get a ticket?

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Two months ago, the 2014 World Cup looked doomed. The stadiums, the airports, the tramways, the parking spaces, expected in December, were not ready.  Deadly construction accidents were frequent. Social protests had returned,  massive, disruptive; they had no specific claim beside the cost of daily living. They had no identifiable leadership. Someone wrote on social media: “Please, don’t come here for the World Cup.  There will be no World Cup. No one has convinced the Brazilian people that there should be one…”

However, when 11 billion dollars were already spent, someone had to make the World Cup happen. So it happened. The second Brazilian World Cup, played by 32 countries in 32 days in 12 stadiums, was a resounding success, a supreme attainment.  It is a poster ad for the 2016 Summer Olympics. Bravo Brazil. Public statues and airport facades have yet to be completed, but no problem; they will be finished before the Olympics. Perhaps…

On the field, Team Brazil was terrible, as abominable as any team can be, more horrendous than any semifinalist in any living memory.  With a tougher draw, Brazil could have been eliminated in the early group stage.  The Auriverdes had merely a bumpy ride until came time for them to play the major European powers.

Then the Brazilians fell apart, 10 goals to 1, in two games. They now need to return to their playing concept, to the jogo bonito. They have to change their policy on Brazilian youth transfer to Europe. They must reorganize their local league, reduce the number of annual games, and create more meaningful competition between the clubs. They must do away with corruption and establish a policy of market fair-play between the clubs. For many, it sounds like the era of Brazilian dominance is over. Half a century ago, the era of British world hegemony was over…

The Africans and Asians only had a cameo appearance at the Cup. They should be looking into their own distinctive and instinctive abilities instead of blindly adopting European football. Countries such as Ghana, Nigeria, Cote d’Ivoire, Japan, Iran had the right players, but no specific winning strategy on the field.

The Americas did well beyond expectation. Argentina made it to the final. Colombia and Costa Rica pleasantly surprised. Team USA survived the group of death, and is now finally ready for prime time. The other teams, such as Mexico, drove a hard bargain to the Europeans. At the end, Europe won, but barely. This win was their 11th, the Americas have stagnated at 9, since 2002.

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WHAT IS IN THE FUTURE?

From Brazil 2014 to Russia 2018, the next World Cup will be staged for the first time in Eastern Europe.  It will be the 21st.  

Vladimir Putin, President of the Russian Federation, was at the Maracana, on Sunday.  He received the baton from Dilma Roussef, the Brazilian President. He stated: “We will do what it takes to organize an event at the highest level.”  Let us bet, he is going to spend 50 billion dollars on this one…

The draw for the qualifiers will take place in Saint Petersburg in July 2015, that is in a year. The games will start, for the latest, in September 2016. One team is already qualified: Russia, as host.

Every year, in June-July,  is staged a major world event in senior international football. You will have plenty to pick from. In 2015, the Women World Cup will take place in Canada, and the Copa America will be in Chile… In 2016, the European Cup of Nations (Euro) will be in France…. In 2017, the Confederations Cup, otherwise called the mini-World Cup, will be played in Russia. ….

For the 2018 World Cup, Travel-O-Ganza intends to visit Moscow and Saint Petersburg. The Russia World Cup Adventure will depart on June 20 and return on June 30.

But you are already suffering from withdrawal syndrome…. How long will you have to wait before seeing high level football action again?  

Not much indeed. In five weeks, the five big European leagues (Spain, England, Italy, France, Germany) will be in full activity. The English Premier League (EPL) resumes on August 16, and the Spanish La Liga starts a week later.

The best football competition on this planet is not the World Cup, it is the Champions League. It is played annually between the best European clubs staffed by the biggest football stars in World Football.  The format is similar to the World Cup (32 teams, 64 ties).

The Champions League will kick off in two months, on September 16; the final will be played in Berlin on May 23, 2015. Real Madrid is the current title holder. Pick a team, a likely winner, such as Barca, Real, Atletico, Milan, Juventus, ManU,  City, Chelsea, Arsenal, Bayern, Paris. Follow your team to the end. You will fall in love and will remain forever connected.

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For a month, with in an upheaval of awe, emotion and passion, we lived the fairy tale of Brazil coming back 64 years later to seize and keep its Cup at home. But the story ended badly. We will have to wait for another 64-year to see Brazil, the only country that played all the World Cups, triumph on home soil. Dreams do come true in the magic Land of Football.

In the meantime, a little guy who watched this year’s World Cup from his father’s lap, or holding his mother’s hand, will grow up to be, in two decades, the Best Striker at the World Cup. In 1994, his name was James Rodriguez, a three-year boy from Cucuta, Colombia…

Until the next World Cup….

Travel-O-Ganza, Inc, The Travel Club
Visit us at TraveloGanza.com
Did you miss our World Cup Trip?
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(The Traveller, Monday July 14, 2014)