Meet Brazil’s World Cup haters
It’s Tuesday afternoon and Brasilia’s central metro station is packed with commuters rushing to get back home to tune in to Brazil play Mexico. Leaving work early to get home for an evening of football on the telly is almost obligatory when the home team plays: I read that some 70 percent of public sector workers in the nation’s capital are allowed to work half-days when Brazil are playing. And as kick-off fast approaches, the city streets are getting emptier and emptier.
An hour before the game, the streets are deserted except for a few lost tourists. I give a group of Colombians and Italians directions to the city’s Fan Fest to watch the match. But I go in the opposite way to a quiet park, which I discover is not completely empty.
It seems this is the spot where people that don’t like football – yes, they do exist in Brazil – find some respite from the World Cup madness. “I take advantage of moments like these, when everyone is at home watching the game,” says Alessandre Resende, a 41-year-old businessman taking pleasure in riding on his skateboard. “I’m not too bound by the football – I come to the park to enjoy the sports I like.”
I meet Pedro Antonio, a candy cotton vendor, whose business is poor on days like these. “I have to work and earn money, but no one is here,” he begins. “Each game means my business goes down. I think next time I will follow the fans and sell where they are. I won’t be here when Brazil plays next, that’s for sure.”
The match must be under way now, as I turn on to the Monumental Axis, one of the city’s main avenues which is now almost empty. I spot a lone cyclist, Angela Goncaves, a local PE teacher who’s happy not to have the need to watch Brazil play. “I don’t have a reason to tune in. I’m not wrapped up by excessive fanaticism,” the 46-year-old tells me. “I’m not a fan of football, and I think all the talk of corruption has taken the shine off the World Cup.”
That controversy surrounding the tournament is why one group of students I bump into are avoiding the sporting spectacle. “I like the own goal Brazil let in in the first game,” jokes Paula Jezuino, a 24-year-old student. “It was as if Marcelo was an agent that infiltrated the team!”
The Brazil-Mexico game must be almost over, but I have yet to hear a massive roar from the fan zones in the distance. The city remains eerily quiet and desolate, like a scene from an apocalyptic movie. The match ended 0-0, but cheer up, Brazil – it’s not the end of the world… yet.