Tahlequah Daily Press

Sports

June 13, 2014

Protests, jubilation greet World Cup start in Brazil

SAO PAULO — "Tudo bem" — all good — as the Brazilians say.

Well, almost.

With a nationwide spasm of excitement but also tear gas, the country that sees itself as the artful soul of football but is conflicted about spending billions of dollars on hosting its showcase tournament kicked off one of the most troubled World Cups ever.

It roared to life Thursday with a 3-1 win for the home team in a stadium barely readied on time for the first of 64 matches in 12 cities.

The end of Brazil's 64-year wait for the World Cup to return to the country of Pele wasn't all parties and samba. There were protests in five host cities and chants against President Dilma Rousseff. But it wasn't close to the chaos that wracked last year's tuneup tournament, the Confederations Cup, when hundreds of thousands poured into the streets.

After a funky opening ceremony featuring J-Lo in low-cut sparkling green and dancers dressed as trees, Brazil's beloved national team, the star-studded Selecao, made an earnest if not brilliant start to the serious business of re-conquering planet futebol. Already the only nation with five world titles, a sixth victory in the July 13 final could assuage much — but not all — public anger about spending $11.5 billion on the tournament.

Brazil's first opponent was a resilient but ultimately outclassed Croatian side. The Itaquerao Stadium, which suffered chronic delays and worker deaths in its construction, was a sea of buttercup yellow, the color of the national team. Brazilian fans expect this crop of stars to deliver not just victory but football as art, the "Jogo bonito" — the beautiful game — that was the hallmark of great Brazilian teams.

The inaugural game had everything aficionados love — passion, drama, spectacle, goals and a refereeing controversy that immediately set fingers wagging on Twitter, showing how players, officials and organizers must live under the microscope of unprecedented social media scrutiny.

Brazilian fans call themselves "torcidas" — derived from the Portuguese word "to twist" and evoking how football puts them through the wringer. Brazil made a nightmare start. Marcelo looked stunned, the crowd of 62,103 wailed and grown men watching in bars let out howls of despairing laughter when the Brazilian defender scored an own-goal that gave Croatia an unlikely 1-0 lead after just 11 minutes.

"I'm very emotional, happy, and happy that it's over," said spectator Ricieri Garbelini, visibly drained. "I was nervous for five minutes at the beginning, and at the end."

The mood lifted when Neymar lived up to his hype and tied the game for Brazil in the 29th minute, unleashing an ear-splitting roar from the crowd and across the nation. In the rundown city of Indaiatuba, a two-hour drive from Sao Paulo, tattooed men in undershirts celebrated by pounding on restaurant tables. Fans watched the game wearing shirts bearing the name of the 22-year-old.

Even football-loving Pope Francis got a touch of World Cup fever. He sent a video message on Brazilian television before the match, saying the world's most popular sport can promote peace and solidarity.

Demonstrating the love-hate relationship Brazilians have with developed with this World Cup, the stadium crowd made hairs stand on end with its rousing rendition of the national anthem, but also chanted against Rousseff and FIFA, the governing body of football.

The crowd booed Rousseff again when the stadium's jumbo screens showed her celebrating Neymar's second goal — scored from the penalty spot in the 71st minute. He thrust his arms in the air and the nation did likewise.

The Croatians were furious that the Japanese referee, Yuichi Nishimura, let himself be hood-winked by Fred. The Brazilian striker won the penalty by making it look as though he'd been hauled down by Croatian defender Dejan Lovren.

"If that was a penalty, we should be playing basketball," said Croatia coach Niko Kovac. "That is shameful, this is not a World Cup referee. He had one kind of criteria for them and another for us."

Oscar scored the third for Brazil, and the celebration was on.

But despite repeated promises from government officials that Brazil would be ready, there were problems at the stadium: The lighting failed in one corner, flickering off, on, off and finally back on again after the late-afternoon kickoff. Brazilian organizers blamed a fault with the power supply and said it would be looked at before the next match.

There were protests in Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Porto Alegre, Brasilia and Belo Horizonte. Police fired canisters of tear gas and stun grenades to push back more than 300 demonstrators who gathered along a Sao Paulo highway. Police also used tear gas against protesters in central Rio.

"I'm totally against the Cup," said protester and university student Tameres Mota. "We're in a country where the money doesn't go to the community, and meanwhile we see all these millions spent on stadiums."

___

AP writers Janie McCauley in Sao Paulo and Joji Sakurai in Indaiatuba, Brazil, contributed.

1
Text Only
Sports
  • Bassmaster.jpg Crossing, and fishing, the Delaware

    Bassmaster Elite Series anglers to compete Aug. 7

    BASS has fished out of some legendary venues over the years (including Chicago, Detroit and New Orleans), but never Philadelphia, which is host of the Bassmaster Elite at Delaware River, Aug. 7-10, 2014.

    July 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • Mison.jpg Mixon’s attorney says incident with woman self-defense

    The attorney for Oklahoma running back Joe Mixon says the incident that left a 20-year-old female OU student with multiple facial fractures was a case of self-defense.

    July 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • Hooper.jpg Sparking the flame

    Sequoyah High School’s Justin Hooper looking to lead this year

    Last season was Justin’s last chance to play alongside Cody at Sequoyah High School.
    Justin had to battle to win the Indians starting tailback. The coaching staff did not know who was going to be the Indians starting running back coming into fall practice.

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • NSU-fishing-team.jpg NSU teams compete in fishing tournament

    Three teams from Northeastern State University’s Bass Fishing Team competed in the Fishing League Worldwide College Fishing Tournament on Grand Lake in Grove on Saturday, June 21.

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • Johnson, East win easily at All-State

    Jake Johnson was able to hold off Lawton MacArthur’s Trent Meisel at the Class 5A state tournament in May. On Monday at the All-State tournament at Cherokee Hills Golf Club, Johnson had it much easier against Meisel.

    July 29, 2014

  • McMillan-blackboard.jpg Hometown brothers team up for RiverHawks football

    Northeastern State’s football program will include a pair of hometown brothers for the 2014 season.
    Mason McMillan returns for his sophomore season, and this year he will be reunited with his younger brother, Kourtland. The brothers graduated from Tahlequah High School – Mason in 2013, followed by Kourtland in 2014. At Tahlequah, Mason and Kourtland shared the gridiron for one season.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • Yurcich ready for second season

    With the 2014 season on the brink, Mike Yurcich, Oklahoma State University football offensive coordinator, is ready for his second year at the helm after coaching a powerful offensive squad a year ago.

    July 28, 2014

  • James_Ethan-(12)-vs.#2CC63C.jpg Back on the line

    RiverHawks’ Ethan James returns to the line healthy and ready for 2014

    RiverHawks offensive lineman Ethan James will enter the 2014 season healthy – something the team, and James, were not in 2013.

    July 25, 2014 2 Photos

  • Sooners shifting several positions

    Experience comes from encountering the same things in the same ways over and over again. Oklahoma’s Geneo Grissom and Julian Wilson have that at defensive end and nickleback in bunches.
    However, both will be seeing new things when practice begins. Grissom is moving to outside linebacker. Wilson will be getting a look at cornerback as his senior season begins

    July 25, 2014

  • Lindley, Tom.jpg Better police needed for college teams enticed to cheat

    The NCAA once cracked down on colleges that went too far luring top prospects, then it targeted teams that lathered players with special treatment. That was until the NCAA's get-tough approach backfired, rendering it ineffective and creating an opportunity for those who want to play dirty.

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

Poll

Do you believe school administrators and college presidents in Oklahoma are paid too much?

Strongly agree.
Somewhat agree.
Somewhat disagree.
Strongly disagree.
Undecided.
     View Results
Press Sports Twitter Updates
Follow us on twitter
AP Video
Obama Chides House GOP for Pursuing Lawsuit New Bill Aims to Curb Sexual Assault on Campus Russia Counts Cost of New US, EU Sanctions 3Doodler Bring 3-D Printing to Your Hand Six PA Cops Indicted for Robbing Drug Dealers Britain Testing Driverless Cars on Roadways Raw: Thousands Flocking to German Crop Circle At Least 20 Chikungunya Cases in New Jersey Raw: Obama Eats Ribs in Kansas City In Virginia, the Rise of a New Space Coast Raw: Otters Enjoy Water Slides at Japan Zoo NCAA Settles Head-injury Suit, Will Change Rules Raw: Japanese Soldiers Storm Beach in Exercises Raw: Weapons Fire Hits UN School in Gaza Raw: Rocket Launches Into Space With Cargo Ship Broken Water Main Floods UCLA Two Women Narrowly Avoid Being Hit by Train Crayola Announces Family Attraction in Orlando
Stocks