What was the VAR doing?
When I packed my bags last December for a year-long backpacking trip around the world, the World Cup in Brazil was the first thing on my list of must dos.
After two weeks enjoying every minute of what has so far been a fantastic cup, here are six observations I’ve made as to why a World Cup should be a part of the travel plans fof every sport-loving backpacker.
1. It makes small talk fun
Ever find yourself sigh as you rattle off for the 191st time where you’ve been and where you’re going as you participate in the obligatory travel small talk? Well never fear, the World Cup is here.
Simply ask where someone is from, pull whatever smidgen of football knowledge you know about that country and run from there. Soon you’ll be dissecting Spain’s shock exit with an Ivorian, gasping as a Chilean tells you some of his fellow countrymen sold their house to be here and sympathising with a Romainian whose country has been given a bad wrap for centuries when it turns out vampires actually originate from Uruguay.
All of sudden you’ll be sitting there wondering how you could’ve ever hated small talk.
2. An excuse to be lazy
We’ve all been there. You know those days where you’ve been travelling for that long that all you want to do is sit on a couch and watch movies. Only problem is that as soon as you try all you hear is that giant megaphone of guilt blaring in your ears telling you how you’re wasting a precious day of travel.
Well guess what? The World Cup will tell that megaphone to piss right off and that megaphone will listen. After all you’ve spent thousands of dollars, took time off or quit work to be in Brazil and be able to sit down and watch football, so you do just that.
Find the nearest screen, sit down, grab a hair of the dog, don’t move and enjoy three or, if you’re lucky, four games of football. If you do want to see Christ the Redeemer there’s always the tournament rest day or anytime Cameroon’s playing.
I’d feel remiss if I didn’t mention the Brazilians. I mean for all the scaremongering going on before the event, Brazil has felt safe as houses during the cup. How much this has to do with unseen police work preventing certain segments of the population participating in the celebrations I don’t know, but based off my interactions with the locals these guys are legendary.
It’s the only place I’ve been to where cab drivers have actually given me translation cards just so they could talk to me – trust me guys I’m not that interesting. Might not be applicable to Argentinians, but from everyone else, obrigado Brazil.
4. It’s made Tinder universally acceptable
The sheer scale of y chromosomes that have made it over to Brazil for this World Cup has meant guys have had to turn to a last resort for female interaction. Actually I lie, it’s basically given every male the excuse to jump on the Tinder bandwagon and not feel the stigma that can come with online dating apps back home.
Hey, how else am I going to talk to girls? And more importantly, everyone else is doing it. And what a wonder Tinder is for the modern gent, absolutely no risk and only reward. If a girl doesn’t like you then who cares, you’ll never know. One does and you’ve also liked the look of her… now we’re talking.
Get on Google translate, shoot her a message and it’s on like Donkey Kong. One of the remaining eight nations is obviously going to claim the world crown, but Tinder may very well be the real winner of this World Cup.
5. You don’t need a watch and you can save you phone battery for important things like Tinder
One of the best things about travelling is that for the most part you can forget about time. Appointments, routines, schedules and timetables all become things you can file away to the realm of a former life. However, there are times when you’re away and suddenly the time of day becomes of upmost importance.
With a World Cup in Brazil though this shouldn’t be a problem, as every second store has a TV showing the game. As you’ve no doubt done your research on the draw, checking the time becomes as simple as sticking your head in the nearest store and catching a glimpse at the game clock. In doing so you’ll be faced with four possible scenarios.
A) There’s a game’s on. You beauty, you’ll be able to get the exact time. It’s 40 mins into the first half of Costa Rica versus Uruguay. Well with a 4pm kick off that makes it 4.40pm.
B) It’s still light out and a telenovela is on. It’s between the first and second game of the day, making it between 3pm and 4pm.
C) It’s just become dark and a telenovela is on. Same deal, only between the third and fourth game, so it’s between 6pm and 7pm.
D) It’s been dark for a while and a telenovela is on. Football is over for the day. Get back to your hostel ASAP, shower and either start or continue drinking your own body weight in Caipirinhas before heading out on that tinder date.
6. For moments like this…
It’s June 18 and FIFA’s Fan Fest on Rio’s famous Copacabana beach is a frenzied blur of red, blue and white after Chile’s most famous World Cup victory. A 2-0 win over reigning European and world champions Spain.
A teenager in a Chilean jersey and backpack is bouncing up and down in wide-eyed excitement. His father walks over and slaps his hand, gives him a fist bump and ruffles his hair, before looking up to his Dad with a smile of disbelieving euphoria. The old man’s face cracks into a reciprocal expression, before he throws his arms around both son and grandson’s necks in a hug whose enthusiasm makes up for the lack of execution.
This is not a sequence for the highlight reel of screaming faces painted in blue, red and white, but rather just two fathers, two sons and three generations quietly soaking up a moment in time that none will forget.