Saturday, June 28, 2014

Day 27 - Chilling Out in Ouro Preto (1st football day off in the World Cup)

The intensity of tournaments like this is amazing. The 32 teams, split into eight groups of four, play three games for points to decide who goes through to the knock-out stage and who goes home. That's 48 games altogether in just 13 days. It's football, football, football for two weeks and then, at the end, they have a day off before it all starts again.

So time to reflect and relax without having to panic about getting to a bar to watch the game. (Tough, isn't it?)

I have a view on the way these tournaments are run. I think it's sad that half the teams have to go home. It's like inviting the world to a big party and then, 2/3rds of the way through, you have to tap half of your guests on the shoulder and tell them to fuck off home. This process of elimination, of course, goes on from now on. Every game decides who stays and who goes until at the end there are just two teams left in the final. Imagine that: At the end of your party, you just have two people left.

Well, I say two. It's actually four. For some reason, FIFA have always had a match for 3rd place played between the two losing semi finalists. Now this match always gets some criticism. Many pundits think it's a waste of time and they shouldn't bother. To them, it's all about winning. Who wins the World Cup is what we're interested in, and nothing else. I disagree. The World Cup is much more than that. It's a massive spectacle where 32 nations come together in sport and friendship. If it were up to me, I'd extend the play off system so that every team would play each other for places from 1st to 32nd.

This way, you see, England and Australia wouldn't be going home, not until they've found out their ranking. England would now be lined up against Cote d'Ivoire and Australia would be playing Croatia. Wins would put them in the running for a place between 17th and 24th. Defeat would mean they'd be seeing where they finish in the bottom 8.

I think that would be really good. It would mean that the World Cup party could go on for longer. More tickets would be sold, more money would be made and it emphasises that sport shouldn't be "winner takes all".

OK. Rant over.

I had a relaxing day in Ouro Preto, starting with a fine breakfast before wandering out to do a bit of shopping. I have a new pullover now to keep me warmer. It really gets freezing at night here.

I did a few touristy things like visiting a museum and a church, but the highlight was finding a lovely café right in the centre of the town where they sold some real quality beers.

My Bedroom

Breakfast Area


Me outside famous church


Arty Cafe

I had strawberry tea

At last, something light to eat

At last, a decent beer

The Street on The Right

Chocolate Selection

Art in the Cafe

Very Nice Pale Ale

Young couple from England

Freezing at night

I went there twice. The first time I spoke with some Dutch fans and the second time with this attractive young couple from England: An Everton fan and his gorgeous girlfriend who is Brazilian born but lives in the East end of London. They kindly let me join them for a while.

So, that's it really. Nothing more to report except that I seem to have got some kind of weird head cold and (thanks to three or four very noisy barking dogs) didn't get much sleep again.

Oh, well. Back to Belo Horizonte today and the football re-commences with the round of 16. Today it's Brazil v Chile and Holland v Mexico. Should be two cracking games. The expectation is for Brazil and Holland to go through and the other two to go home.

Ouro Preto

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