World cup: The kick-off

Frank McMullan, a 75-year-old Scot from Glasgow, has been to every World Cup since the 1974 tournament in Germany.

Despite his aanced age – he walks aided with a stick, McMullan’s memory of each of the last nine World Cups is sharp.

His eyes glow with relish when he recalls the bumpy bus ride over the Andes Mountains to Mendoza in 1978 to watch his country beat eventual World Cup finalists Netherlands 3-2. P.3

He discusses Archie Gemill’s legendary strike like it was yesterday. He recollects Ruud Krool’s assist for Johnny Rep’s goal in crisp fashion.The 2014 World Cup whose preparations have attracted sustained criticism in and out of Brazil kicks off in Sao Paolo today when the hosts play Croatia.

McMullan – in Rio for his 10th tournament – is convinced this year’s competition, which has cost $14b, will be remembered for the right reasons.“My memory of Argentina 1978 will remain undimmed,” he explains “for the great showpiece it was and not the military dictatorship of the junta headed by Lieutenant General Jorge Rafael Videla.”

“The World Cup is a global party that is more than football, there is a lot more. If there is a country that can provide the ultimate atmosphere of a global celebration, it is Brazil.”

McMullan is not bothered that Scotland are not in Brazil. “Dont get me wrong I would have loved my team here, but their absence wont diminish my festival an inch.”

The arrival lounge at Rio’s Galeao international Aiport continues to receive streams of fans from every corner of the world. Organisers are expecting 500,000 visitors for a tournament viewed as essential to the cultural integration of Brazil.

Brazilian gear is unsurprisingly the most conspicuous with images of Neymar, the poster boy of the Samba hopes prominent everywhere. But Mexico, Netherland, Spanish, US and Algerian fans were some of the fans who touched down yesterday in full force dressed in their team’s colours and brimming with a mixture of excitement and anticipation.

It is not just fans of countries taking part there was a fan from Trinidad, two from Egypt and three from Canada.

There are certainly many more hundreds of thousands of fans from different parts of the world in the other host cities of Sao Paulo, Curitiba, Salvador, Fortaleza, Belo Horizonte, Natal, Porto Alegre and Manaus.

For the entire world, it is time to entre na torcida – join the football party.

mnamanya@ug.nationmedia.com

SOURCE: Daily Monitor

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