Is it legal to use one’s trunk to kick the ball?
Brazil, some say, is where the soul of football lives.
The passion of its loyal fan base is especially evident now during the World Cup. At one Brazilian family’s home in São Paulo, that passion is on full display.
VOA’s Ramon Taylor takes us inside that home:
With stars such as Islam Slimani, Madjid Bougherra, Sofiane Feghouli, and Medhi Lacen, Les Fennecs – Algeria’s football team – are hoping for victory in their fourth World Cup appearance.
During our visit to the Embassy of Algeria to the United States, His Excellency, the Ambassador Abdallah Baali, shared some of his favorite World Cup moments:
“Algeria has a great tradition of playing high quality football. One of my favorite football memories comes from 1982 World Cup in Spain, where Algeria beat West Germany 2-1 in their opening game; that was a great game. Another favorite football memory has to be 1975, when Algeria defeated France 2-1, in the Mediterranean finals.”
Of course, being the big football fan he is, the Ambassador had to pass along his well wishes to Les Fennecs with the traditional Algerian cheer: “1,2, 3 – Viva L’Algerie!”
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:
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)
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.”
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.
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.
Cameroonians around the world are hoping that their national football team, The Indomitable Lions, live up to their name and play some indomitable football in the coming weeks.
Among the team’s biggest fans? His Excellency, Joseph Bienvenu Charles Foe-Atangana, Ambassador of Cameroon to the United States. We recently visited the Ambassador, who shared his excitement on the upcoming games, and his best wishes to the team:
“I am delighted that our team has been placed in Group A with Mexico, Brazil, and Croatia. We are very proud of our players as they will make their 7th appearance in the World Cup,” the Ambassador said. “Football has become a sport of our culture.”
The Indomitable Lions make their World Cup 2014 debut the tournament against Mexico on June 13 at Arena das Dunas in Natal, followed by matches against Croatia on June 18, and Brazil on June 22.
Will Cameroon’s dreams be dashed before the end of group play? Or will they stun favorites Brazil…and the world? See for yourself by following the latest World Cup news here at VOAFootball.com, and on Facebook and Twitter.