Rain, Humidity Sop World Cup

Never mind the refereeing, let’s talk about the weather.

Sponge-quality humidity and rainforest deluges may be old hat to Brazilians, but it’s a new phenomenon for many of the other World Cup teams competing in Brazil. Friday’s Mexico-Cameroon match was so rainy that the players didn’t have to shower afterward. Not really, but it sure seemed that way, judging by the photos and footage:

Brazil Soccer WCup Mexico Cameroon

Spectators sit under pouring rain as they watch the group A World Cup soccer match between Mexico and Cameroon in the Arena das Dunas in Natal, Brazil, Friday, June 13, 2014. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)

Cesare Prandelli

 Italy coach Cesare Prandelli watches his players as they train in the rain, in Mangaratiba, Brazil, Tuesday, June 10, 2014. Italy will play in group D of the Brazil 2014 soccer World Cup. (AP Photo/Antonio Calanni)

In Manaus, where England and Italy face off in their opening matches of the tournament later Saturday (kick-off at 6 p.m. USEDT, 10 p.m. GMT), the heat and humidity “feel like a dryer full of damp clothes,” as the New York Times put it.

The Associated Press, meanwhile, has quoted locals in Manaus as joking that there are only two seasons in the city: summer and hell.

The Times goes on to report that the English players– accustomed to rain but at significantly lower temperatures and less humidity– undertook unusual training methods to prepare for the Manaus hothouse.

“To prepare for Manaus, England held a camp in Portugal and trained in gloves, hats and layers of clothes. At their own national training center, players rode exercise bikes in hothouse conditions. No word on whether they also took turns under the French-fry lamp at McDonalds.”


 People run to take cover from the rain under the decorations of Santa Isabel Street, southern Manaus, one of the host cities of Fifa World Cup 2014, Amazonas state, Brazil, on June 11, 2014. AFP PHOTO/Raphael ALVES

England striker Wayne Rooney, meanwhile, was quoted by the Guardian as predicting a much slower game against the Italians, due to the heat. The Daily Mail says the English should quit their whinging, pointing out that, according to Bloomberg, Germany will face the worst weather conditions during the tournament:

“Bloomberg’s “discomfort” table for the opening group phase takes into account historical data from each World Cup host city, including average temperature, angle of the sun, cloud cover and humidity.The Germans, who face Portugal, Ghana and the U.S. in the first round, have the hottest and fourth most humid conditions, based on the dew point, the temperature at which water vapor in the air condenses into liquid.”

Sweltering: Germany and Italy have the worst weather conditions to contend with in Brazil for their World Cup group games, while England don't trouble the top in 19th

This photo featuring German midfielder Mesut Ozil after a training session in Santo Andre earlier this month may give some corroboration to that:


To be fair, there are plenty of other teams who come from similarly tropical condition: Cameroon, which lost to Mexico 0-1 on Friday, isn’t exactly Finland, where heat and humidity are concerned. Cote D’Ivoire, Nigeria, Colombia, Honduras, Costa Rica: players from these countries should theoretically be less fazed by heat and humidity. But let’s face it; a deluge makes for challenging conditions no matter where you’re playing. It’s just a matter of what other concerns you’re facing. Hypothermia, for example. Or heat exhaustion.

This caption in this photograph taken by The Associated Press gives a good explanation what the teams are facing in their competition around Brazil this month and next.

Brazil WCup Managing Manaus

In this May 21, 2014 photo, a man rides his motorbike under a canopy of ribbons through a street decorated in honor of the upcoming 2014 World Cup, in Manaus, Brazil. While the forest fauna is largely absent from the metropolis itself, nature makes itself felt in the hothouse climate and the blooms of mold that envelop the low-slung concrete buildings. Humidity hovers around 80 percent year-round.

Do Androids Dream of Electric World Cup Victories?

(this post courtesy VOA’s Urdu Service)

Pakistan doesn’t have a team competing in the 2014 World Cup, which opened today in Brazil. In fact, football is often an afterthought in the cricket-mad country.

(SPOT QUIZ: When was the last time that the Pakistan national team qualified for the tournament? Answer at the end of this post)

But that’s not stopping a group of Pakistani university engineering students, from putting their mental and physical energy into a different sort of World Cup.

Students of Pakistan’s Center for Advance Studies in Engineering are angling to compete in the 2014 Robo Cup, to take place in Brazil on the sidelines of the actual football tournament.

Vice Chancellor Shaukat Hameed Khan told VOA’s Urdu Service that the purpose of the competition is to develop teams of football-capable robots to play against human beings, possibly by 2050.

“When Pakistan’s team played in the Street Child World Cup this year, it had a positive impact. Now, our national team could not go but if our robots go, it will be good for the future of soccer in Pakistan.”

Each robot cost about 400,000 rupees ($4,000), paid largely by the students themselves. Unfortunately Pakistan’s government has refused to pay the cost of the trip, so Khan said he is seeking help from the private sector.

Check out what the World Cup of the future may end up looking like:


(SPOT QUIZ ANSWER: Pakistan has never competed in the World Cup, though the Pakistani Football Federation is making serious investments in the sport that may pay off in coming years)

At the Copa… Copacabana

Viva El Mejico!

Sombreros, samba music, wrestling masks, green-white-and-red shirts.

Mexico City? Nope. Rio’s famed Copacabana beach.

The beach was awash in La Fiesta De Mejico Friday, with hundreds of fans reveling in Mexico’s opening match 1-0 triumph over Cameroon. Watch the fun from VOA’s Brian Allen and Scott Bobb.

Spain-Netherlands Cold Revenge

¿Como Se Dice Humiliation?

From 2010:

APTOPIX South Africa Soccer WCup Final Netherlands Spain

From 2014:

Robin van Persie

There are alot of people in Madrid, Barcelona and much of the Iberian peninsula (heck, much of the football world for that matter) scratching their heads over how a defending World Cup champion with a powerhouse roster can be so abjectly routed and humiliated.

The Dutch did just that today to Spain.

¿Como se dice The Return of Total Football?


From Sao Paolo to Brooklyn

Os fãs do futebol de Seleção em Brooklyn

Brazil wins and they go crazy in… Brooklyn?!

New York City has one of the largest populations of Brazilians and Brazilian-Americans in the United States (eastern Massachusetts has the largest). So no surprises that they were going bonkers in one neighborhood in Brooklyn Thursday when the Seleção opened their World Cup bid with a 3-1 victory over Croatia.

Check out the scene at this VOA photo gallery from photographer Adam Phillips.