Apr 2, 2014

In Cuiaba, Australia’s field of dreams, they’re sick of the Cup already

The World Cup starts in just a few months. But Dan Moss, an Australian freelance journalist in Cuiaba, says Brazil is nowhere near ready to host the showcase of the world game.

Walking down the street in Cuiaba's main shopping district, I'm blown away as a truck built for the annual Carnival, with huge speakers built into an elevated platform, rolls past. On the side a homewares and electrical chain advertises that it will bring the Cup to your house (via one of its TVs). Aboard the float a man screams repetitive slogans through the enormous speakers as Brazil's ubiquitous mascot -- the tall and tanned, young and lovely girls from anywhere but Ipanema -- wave flags and look extremely bored. It seems this is the only part of Cuiaba (pronounced Koo-ya-ba), the capital of Mato Grosso state, prepared for the World Cup. Australia will play Chile here on June 13. A ditch excavated throughout the city bears witness to the slow progress of preparations for the Cup. In the local paper Folha do Estado, Brazil's federal government continues to boast in advertisements that it has funded two projects: to build a $700 million light rail between the airport and the city centre, and an airport extension. In a rare moment of communication about Cup preparations, Mauricio Guimaraes, the head of the Extraordinary Secretariat for the World Cup for the Mato Grosso state government, told the Associated Press the light rail project would be finished by the end of 2014 and denied it was linked to the World Cup, though the project used special funds allotted to Cup preparations. A double-page spread in the newspaper tells another tale to the one told in the advert. Local motoring bodies are worried about a clash between buses and taxis due to the roadworks. The buzzword is capacity. The city of 550,000 is expecting 80,000 visitors in two-and-a-half months and has a big ditch to contend with instead of being able to efficiently transport people through the city. As I sat in a cafe in the colonial part of Cuiaba reading the paper I asked the man in his 50s behind the counter serving snacks and coffee what he thought of the Cup. "Tsk," he said, shaking his head. Cuiabanos are sick of the disruption. Diane, a woman in her mid-30s, says preparations have taken too long and the Cup is a hassle. "I hate the Cup."

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2 thoughts on “In Cuiaba, Australia’s field of dreams, they’re sick of the Cup already

  1. gringa brazilien

    It will be great – despite the doom’n’gloom merchants, I’m pretty sure everything’s gonna be alright on the night.
    Same thing happened with SA World Cup and London 2012: it’s all gonna be a disaster – but, as we know, both events turned out pretty cool.
    I have a feeling Brazil WC will be awesome.
    I just need to find ticketssss! 🙂

  2. Hector Lung

    I’m attending the three Aussie matches and I must say that given my previous experiences in Brasil, I have at no stage planned on a smoothly run World Cup. Part of the attraction will be the joyous chaos. However, reading this, it may not be so joyous. At least I’ll know what the ditch is all about.

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