Ronaldinho Gaucho

Monday, June 05, 2006

World Cup fever hits Brazil

Brazil is engulfed in World Cup mania with optimism sky high that Ronaldinho and company can bring home a record sixth title.

The country is dripping in green and yellow.

Roads, buildings, shop windows, and even beaches have all been decked out in the national colours that will set pulses racing in stadia across Germany starting from Friday.

Wherever you are pictures of the players look down from advertising hoardings.

The bustling Sahara shopping district is awash with Brazil paraphernalia as businesses seek to tap in on the wave of anticipation.

Banners, garlands, footballs, shirts and seemingly every conceivable accessory are there for fans to snap up. Loudspeakers offer “unbeatable prices”.

“We can't complain,” said one shopkeeper, Jorge.

“First we've had the carnival, then the Rolling Stones concert, and now the World Cup – sales have been good up to now.

“Sirens, flags and football shirts are selling like hotcakes.”

Green and yellow fever has struck each district of Rio, with tiny banners covering entire streets while on the pavements are written slogans like Rumo ao Hexa (we're heading towards a sixth title).

Ronaldinho's smiling face is omnipresent – the Barcelona ace watching from supermarket vans, from your mobile phone, from fashion catalogues or cartoon strips.

Ronaldo appears in a beer advert where he kicks a ball saying: “the battle for a sixth star (to put on the Brazil shirt, there is one for every World Cup victory) has begun”.

Inevitably Brazil's rivalry with Argentina surfaces from time to time.

One soft drinks advert has Argentine legend Diego Maradona singing the national anthem kitted out in the Brazil colours alongside Ronaldinho and Kaka. The ad finishes with Maradona waking up in a sweat, the nightmare over.

The World Cup has sparked a boom in sales of televisions, with shops easing the pain of payment with seductive credit arrangements.

One offers anyone who buys a giant screen TV a second set for 50 cents if Brazil win.

In the first quarter of the year 60,000 plasma screens were sold – that's 2,000 more than changed hands in the whole of last year.

Restaurants and bars are getting in on the act – dishing up pizzas in the colours of the Brazil national flag, or German or any other country on request.

Football fever has touched fashion too. In Sao Paulo designer Almir Slama has transformed the team's shirts into a line of chic dresses.


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