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Brazil grinds to a halt as the World Cup party begins IV News

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Dressed in yellow and green bikinis, Neymar jerseys and sparkly T-shirts straight out of the carnival, Brazilians dropped everything on Thursday to watch the national team make their much-anticipated World Cup debut, erupting in celebration for their opening victory.

Packed in front of a giant screen on Rio de Janeiro’s famous Copacabana beach, in the middle of what would normally be a workday, fans of all ages celebrated Brazil’s 2-0 soccer victory over Serbia – and allowed themselves to dream of a record. an extension of his sixth world title could be on the horizon.

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Standing on the beach in his Brazilian shirt, construction worker Benildo Ferreira erupted with joy at the second of two goals, both scored by Tottenham Hotspur striker Richarlison.

“I was worried” during the scoreless first half, Ferreira, 51, told AFP as fireworks exploded overhead.

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“But Brazil is going to reach the final and we are going to win.”

It was an anxious wait for many in soccer-mad Brazil, where fevered passion for the World Cup often draws comparisons to a nation going to war.

Milton de Souza shook off his nervousness on the edge of the seafront as he waited for the opening goal.

“We just have to be patient,” said the 58-year-old pensioner, who was dressed in green and yellow – as was almost the entire country, it seemed.

He was cautious on the question of whether the “Selecao” could end their 20-year title drought.

“Nothing is certain in football.”

Others were already daring to dream.

“The cup is ours this year, without a doubt,” said 23-year-old Marcos Vinicius, who accurately predicted Richarlison’s performance ahead of the game.

– Ghost towns –

Centers in Rio, Sao Paulo and other centers of Latin America’s biggest economy, meanwhile, turned into ghost towns as Brazil ground to a halt to watch the game.

Street food vendor Kaua Suarez, 19, and three customers huddled around a cellphone he had hung on his hot dog cart, watching the game in a near-deserted downtown Rio.

“I had to work, so I found a way to watch. I’m going to watch every game, no matter what time,” he said.

“Football is the dream of every favela kid in Brazil. We’re crazy about it. Brazilians are born loving football.”

Even President-elect Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva took time out from political horse-trading ahead of his January 1 inauguration to observe.

He tweeted a photo of himself and his wife in national team jerseys, TV in the background, with the message: “Congratulations Brazil. On the way to title number six!”

– Enough politics –

A small army of vendors selling jerseys, flags, scarves, hats and endless other World Cup paraphernalia were happy while Lula’s victory in Brazil’s divisive election in October had finally ended a ban on wearing yellow and green, the colors that far defeated Jair Bolsonaro the president and his supporters had taken it upon themselves.

“People were resistant. They actually waited until the last minute to buy (yellow and green gear), because of the political situation,” said vendor Giselle de Freitas, 41, who was selling a plethora of earrings, tiaras and other accessories on Copacabana . . . .

For most, the World Cup won the heat in the end.

Not for everyone though.

Hotel doorman Osvaldo Alves, a small 74-year-old with thinning white hair and a bright red outfit, was one of the few who didn’t see the game.

“The country always drops everything when the Selecao plays. We sit there and watch football and solve none of our problems,” he said from his post at the downtown hotel where he works.

“This is a disease that Brazil has. Brazilians are just crazy about football.”

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