Amazon to stage first World Cup Finals match

mapaula, flickr

mapaula, flickr

The first-ever FIFA World Cup Finals match will be played in the Amazon region of Brazil, after the sport’s governing body announced the cities to host the tournament in 2014.

Wild celebrations were seen across Brazil on Sunday in the twelve chosen cities.

Porto Alegre, Curitiba (South); São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and Belo Horizonte (South-East); Natal, Recife, Fortaleza and Salvador (North-East); Cuiabá and Brasília (Centre-West); and Manaus were selected to host matches.

In 1950, when Brazil staged the first post World War II finals, Rio de Janiero,  Belo Horizonte, Curitiba, Recife, Porto Alegre and  São Paulo played host to 13 teams and 22 matches.

Brazil’s World Cup qualifying matches have been staged outside big cities in recent years because of criticism of the performances of highly-paid players, many of whom play for European clubs.

Though there were no real surprises, the city of Manuas in Amazonia beat off competition from rival Belém.

Manuas is said to have drawn on support from Japanese electronics multinational Sony whose Brazilian base is in the city. Sony has been a regular World Cup sponsor or partner in FIFA’s parlance.

Hot and Humid

Unsurprisingly for a city of 1.7 million people in Brazil’s Amazon region, average temperatures of between 24 and 31 degrees, added to high humidity levels for teams drawn to play in Manaus will be big factors.

It’s believed FIFA had intended to name only 10 hosting cities, until the intervention of Brazilian Football Association President Ricardo Texeira.

Five cities Belém, Campo Grande, Florianópolis, Goiânia and Rio Branco missed out on the chance to host the competition in which 31 countries are expected to line up alongside Brazil, once they have negotiated tricky qualifying stages to get through to the final 64 matches.

The tournament’s opening match will be in São Paulo with the final scheduled to played at the Maracanã stadium in Rio de Janeiro, scene of the final match of 1950, which saw the Jules Rimet trophy snatched from under the Brazilian team’s noses by 11 minutes from the end by Uruguay.

In this football-crazy country, that 2-1 loss first sparked a period of national mourning on the scale of the assassination of John F. Kennedy and then self-examination that was to last eight years until 1958, when Brazil clinched the first of five victories 5-2 against hosts Sweden in Stockholm.

The Brazilian government has been preparing a number of mini-economic growth packages to stage the 20th edition of the FIFA World Cup, putting the emphasis on transport and other infrastructure projects. Cuiabá, Natal and Recife will get new stadia.

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