Dirty Tackle's Ryan Bailey is in Rio de Janeiro covering the 2014 World Cup for Yahoo Sports. In this diary, he will share his experiences of Brazil, his thoughts on the games and his overt humblebrags...
Yahoo bloggers don't leave their mother's basements and put on pants without a good reason, but I was delighted when I was asked to break protocol to fly to Brazil and spend a month covering the World Cup.
It's my first ever experience of FIFA's showpiece money-making exercise, and despite the cynicism of the first part of this sentence, I felt like a kid at Christmas when I arrived in Rio on Saturday.
To compound the elation and jetlag-induced hysteria, I was taken straight from the airport to the Selecao's hallowed turf: The Maracana. And it is spectacular.
There are already plenty of fans and street performers milling around outside the stadium's entrance — beneath the imposing statue of Hilderado Bellini, the captain of the 1958 winning side — while the dancers who entertain at traffic lights certainly add to the carnival atmosphere...
After settling in, the Yahoo team took a trip to the peak of the 2,300-ft Corcovado mountain, where this chap was waiting at the top...
At Christ the Redeemer's feet, groups of Netherlands fans were taking "shelfies," Colombians extolled the virtues of Los Cafeteros with loud chants, a drum chorus maintained a samba beat, and, as you would expect, there were monkeys. Lots of monkeys.
Below is the stunning view, in which you can see Sugarloaf Mountain. At its base you will find England's idyllic-but-heavily-guarded training camp — perhaps If I pretend to need the bathroom I will be granted access...
Much has been made of the potential for civil unrest at this tournament, and we were given an early taste of the protests during a visit to Copacabana beach.
These Brazilians were holding an education protest, which blocked the main street running along the Copacabana for nearly two hours.
We were handed leaflets informing us that there will also be a mass protest on the Copacabana on Thursday, the day of the opening match of the World Cup. This is also the site of the official FIFA Fan Fest, where thousands will watch Brazil take on Croatia on a big screen on the beach. So, the possibility of absolute bedlam is high.
"Red card to sexual tourism"
With World Cup fever gripping the nation, it's been amusing to see how Selecao stars of the past and present are being used to sell people things. Ronaldo is an ambassador for a major supermarket chain, David Luiz is in mobile phone commercials and Neymar is in favor of a certain brand of underwear. My favorite shill so far, however, has been Pele shampoo.
Of course, shampoo isn't the only thing that Pele promotes in the drug store.
That brings us up to speed with my Brazilian adventure thus far, but I'll leave you with my video of the day. It's a discussion I had earlier today on Botafogo beach with Yahoo's Melanie Collins and Christopher Sullivan about potential candidates for the Golden Boot award. There are certainly worse places in the world to have such discussions.
Enjoy the opening of the tournament in all its J-Lo glory and I'll check back in soon.
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