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Rediff.com  » Sports » World Cup Fan Zone: Party is getting bigger and better in Brazil

World Cup Fan Zone: Party is getting bigger and better in Brazil

June 18, 2014 09:35 IST

World Cup Fan Zone: Party is getting bigger and better in Brazil

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Many fans arrived in Brazil for the World Cup expecting a six-week party with a heady mix of top quality football, tropical beaches and Caipirinha cocktails played out to the soundtrack of a funky Samba beat.

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Image: Fans of Mexico wait for the start of their 2014 World Cup Group A soccer match against Brazil at the Castelao arena in Fortaleza
Photographs: Sergio Moraes/Reuters

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World Cup Fan Zone: Party is getting bigger and better in Brazil

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And while there has been no shortage of sunshine, barbecued beef, beer and beach kickarounds, the more than half a million foreign visitors have discovered a nation more varied and complex than the picture postcard stereotypes.

Torrential rain, stifling humidity, traffic congestion, price gouging, petty crime and a local population sometimes indifferent or even downright hostile to the tournament have all been part of the experience for some.

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Image: Brazil fans kiss after watching the Brazil-Mexico match
Photographs: Mario Tama/Getty Images
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World Cup Fan Zone: Party is getting bigger and better in Brazil

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From the long, sandy beaches of the north through the teeming metropolises of the south, to the venues in the interior, fans in the 12 host cities are having their preconceptions, both good and bad, challenged.

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Image: Football fans pose with a replica of the World Cup trophy on the beachfront outside the Fan Fest area in Porta Negro
Photographs: Oli Scarff/Getty Images
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World Cup Fan Zone: Party is getting bigger and better in Brazil

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American Jonathan Ahn, braving the drizzle with a group of friends on the way to the beach on the eve of his country's clash with Ghana, said he had been surprised by the record rainfall but was determined to make the most of his trip.

"I expected sunshine and warm water but it's not going to stop us from having fun," Ahn told Reuters.

"We had to get a cab to go one block last night."

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Image: Fans cheer in the crowd
Photographs: Paul Gilham/Getty Images

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World Cup Fan Zone: Party is getting bigger and better in Brazil

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It was that struggle which provided the spark for the anti-World Cup street protests in many of the host cities by Brazilians unhappy about the $11 billion spent to host the tournament.

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Image: Brazilian Fans gather on Copacabana Beach to watch the Brazil v Mexico match
Photographs: Richard Heathcote/Getty Images
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World Cup Fan Zone: Party is getting bigger and better in Brazil

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Many fans in Belo Horizonte in Brazil's southeast witnessed rioting on the opening day of the tournament with astonishment and some fear.

"These things are big, serious problems," said Greek fan Themis Lampropolous, a language teacher who comes from Olympia but now lives in Vienna with his Brazilian girlfriend.

"They can't just go away because of football. But you know Brazilians, they always fight and always complain, but then when the national team plays, suddenly they are all one again."

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Image: Brazilian fans celebrate at Copacabana beach in Rio
Photographs: Pilar Olivares/Reuters

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World Cup Fan Zone: Party is getting bigger and better in Brazil

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Belo Horizonte is just one of the cities where fans have been surprised to find the local populous are not all football obsessives and totally wrapped up in the World Cup.

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Image: A fan looks on during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Group H match between Russia and South Korea at Arena Pantanal
Photographs: Adam Pretty/Getty Images

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World Cup Fan Zone: Party is getting bigger and better in Brazil

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Some fans have found the atmosphere in the impersonal Brasilia a little flat during the day but there is plenty going on at night in the capital if you know where to look, according to Swiss fan Stephane Capt, an accountant from Geneva.

"The city only comes alive during the night, it's dead during the day," Capt told Reuters at halftime during the Group E match between the Swiss and Ecuador.

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Image: Fans watch the football game featuring Spain vs Netherland on the giant screen
Photographs: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

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World Cup Fan Zone: Party is getting bigger and better in Brazil

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Despite having to battle the expected heat, fans in the other cities in the interior, Cuiaba and Manaus, would seem to be among those more pleasantly surprised by their experiences.

"We are Aussies so we like the weather and we are also delighted with the people's hospitality here," said Sydney bricklayer David Fitzharris, who was about to embark on a boat trip down the Amazon in Manaus.

"It's our third World Cup and the most enjoyable one so far, we've planned it for about a year."

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Image: Mexican soccer team fans react to their team winning the match against Cameroon
Photographs: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

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World Cup Fan Zone: Party is getting bigger and better in Brazil

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Francisco Quesada, a school teacher from Santiago, came to Cuiaba to see Chile play world champions Spain on Friday.

"This is a really nice city," he said. "In Chile, we heard there were going to be lots of protests against the World Cup and crime, and really we have had a different and surprising experience here."

Fans in all of the host cities have been impressed by the reception they have received from the locals, even the legion of Argentines who poured into Rio de Janeiro for their opener against Bosnia on Sunday.


Image: A Chile fan enjoys the atmosphre prior to the 2014 FIFA World Cup match
Photographs: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

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