Tag Archives: World Cup 2014

Photos from inside the stadium at Snoozefest 2014, or the England vs Costa Rica World Cup game

Here are a few photos from the Mineirão stadium by fans at the England vs Costa Rica game, which ended 0-0 here in Belo Horizonte.

Photo from inside the stadium at the England - Costa Rica game World Cup 2014 Beautiful

Photo from inside the stadium at the England - Costa Rica game World Cup 2014 Beautiful

Photo from inside the stadium at the England - Costa Rica game World Cup 2014 Beautiful



Step-by-step guide on how to get your 90-day Brazil tourist visa renewed in Belo Horizonte (featuring Van Persie, free oranges and stamps)

You came for the World Cup, and now you want to stay in Brazil and live there forever. Your 90-day tourist visa runs out so you need to renew it, and fast. Your only option is to head to a Policia Federal.

Here’s a step-by-step guide on how British, American Nationals and most other countries can get their 90-day tourist visa renewed in Belo Horizonte.

1) Fill in this online form. You want the “PEDIDO DE PRORROGACAO DE PRAZO DE ESTADA” option.

Print it off. This is an invoice you have to pay at a bank before they will process your visa at the Policia Federal. It costs 67 reais to renew your tourist visa.

If you don’t have a printer go to a “Lan House” or walk around your area until you see a shop with a “Xerox” sign. I brought my computer to the shop and emailed the document to the manager who printed it off for me. For this he charged me the princely sum of 1.50 reais, about 40p or 60 cents.

2) Take this document and 67 reais to any bank – Itau, Bradesco, Banco do Brasil, Santander… Go early in the morning because banks have a take-a-ticket system and they get incredibly busy (a friend and I once went to a bank which had a two-hour wait to see a cashier). Don’t do any of this at lunch-time, either, or you will wait an extra hour.

3) Pay the cashier 67 reais. She will stamp your document and tear off the slip you need to show to the official at the Policia Federal.

4) Go to the Policia Federal with your paid invoice, your passport and the entry document you got when you arrived in Brazil.

The address is Rua Francisco Deslandes, 900. Shopping Anchieta Plaza. Bairro Anchieta, Belo Horizonte. It’s in a nice shopping mall and the bank is opposite. It was already full of people when I arrived, most of whom were Brazilians getting their passports renewed.

There is a  separate line for gringos/estrangeiros. Ask the attendant “Onde está a fila para os estrangeiros?” or look out for a sign. I did not do this, and I subsequently waited in the wrong queue for 40 minutes, only to reach the counter and be told the tourist visa line was actually a row of seats around the outskirts of the room.

I waited in this queue for 40 minutes only to find out it wasn't the line for the gringos renewing their tourist visas.
I waited in this queue for 40 minutes only to find out it wasn’t the line for gringos renewing their tourist visas.

5) Sit in the row of seats, shuffling over to the next seat as it’s vacated by the foreigner ahead of you. Wait maybe an hour. Bring a book or watch Brazilian daytime TV. Talk to your fellow gringo.

6) You’ll be called in to the room when it’s your turn. Here is my interaction with the official as I remember it:

Official: “Did you fill in the document?”

Me: “No.”

He hands me a piece of paper and I fill in the top-half. Name, age, marriage status, address and contact in Brazil.

Official: “Are you sad England played badly in the World Cup?”

Me: “Yes.”

We get to talking about Brazil’s chances, how good the Netherlands team is, Manchester United, Van Persie. During this five minutes the visa application isn’t progressed in any way. It’s all very relaxed.

Another official comes by with a huge box of fruit. He asks if I want something. I take an orange and he tells me an estrangeiro brought it in. I’m presuming handing tourists oranges isn’t normal protocol at the Policia Federal but it’s a nice gesture.

7) He fills in the lower half of the form. He ticks that I have a return ticket and I have sufficient funds, although he doesn’t ask me to prove any of this. He taps at the computer and uses no less than seven stamps to certify my passport and entry paper.

8) We shake hands and I leave. I wish Brazil well in its future sporting endeavors.

A few points:

1) Get your tourist visa renewed as close to the end of your 90 days as possible, because the new 90-day allowance starts when your application is processed (so if you renew your visa at 80 days you can only stay a total of 170 days).

2) Most nationalities, and definitely the case for Americans and British, can only renew the visa once in a one-year period (so you can stay as a tourist here for 180 days out of 365 days).

3) Have a contingency plan if you’re rejected, although I reckon it unlikely you will be unless you’re doing something particularly nefarious here.

Six reasons Neymar represents everything that’s wrong with Brazil and its wealthy elite

Although the advertising machine around Neymar works hard to make him appear a pretty nice guy, here’s six reasons why the footballer – rightly or wrongly – represents everything wrong with Brazil’s wealthy, corrupt elite and the crushing inequality these powerful figures create.

1) He, or the people around him, are corrupt: When Neymar signed for Barcelona its vice president Josep Maria Bartomeu said Neymar’s transfer fee was €87.2 million. They then declared the  official transfer fee on documents as €57 million, as €40 million “supposedly… flowed to a company which is close to Neymar’s family.”

Brazilian politicians are famously corrupt. One politician was elected to Brazil’s Congress while under investigation for murder after having an adversary killed with a chain saw. Another is wanted by Interpol after being found guilty of diverting more than $10 million from a public road project to offshore bank accounts. I can’t find the source but I read recently that 60 per cent of Brazilian politicians are currently under police investigation.

2) He’s rich: Neymar was making 1.5 million reais a year at just 16 years old. He makes 9 million euros a year now playing for Barcelona.

Similarly, Brazilian politicians are among the highest paid and least productive in the world.

And in the world of business the 15 Richest Families In Brazil are worth an estimated $122 billion — or about 5% of the country’s total GDP. Out of 65 Brazilian billionaires listed by FORBES in its World’s Billionaires list, 25 are blood relatives.

3) He’ll sell himself to the highest bidder: Neymar has sponsorship deals with Castrol, Red Bull, Volkswagen and Panasonic and an 11 year boot deal with Nike worth at least $1 million per year. There’s nothing wrong with footballers making hay while the sun shines, though.

Brazilian politicians see nothing wrong using the same “sponsorship” tactics, however. Municipal and state officials are close to the mega-corporations that run Brazil’s construction, beverage, transport, energy and food industries. The cost of building Brasilia’s World Cup stadium nearly tripled to $900m in public funds, for example, largely due to allegedly fraudulent billing.

This after the construction company for Brasilia’s stadium increased its political donations 500-fold in the most recent election.

4) He’s light-skinned: Neymar’s dying his hair blonde might seem insignificant, but it takes on huge cultural significance in a country that has a legacy of slavery and inequality. It’s known as “Branqueamento”, (“Whitening”) and can lead to a prosperous shift from the darker-skinned underclass to the lighter-skinned Brazilian elite.

Neymar a few days ago: tall and tanned and young and blonde?
Neymar before the Brazil-Mexico game: tall and tanned and young and blonde.

Over 70 per cent of Brazilian politicians are light-skinned.

The Berkeley Review suggests this is because white Brazilians have more money on average than non-whites. Brazilian politicians elected to office had significantly higher mean total assets, at 432,000 Brazilian reais (R$), than those who were not elected, whose average assets totaled only R$188,000. White Brazilians have an average net worth of R$440,000, compared to R$247,000 for non-whites, indicating that on average white politicians simply have more cash to spend on campaigns than non-whites, and therefore gain power more easily.

5) He left Brazil: In 2010 Neymar’s agent said Neymar “wants to become the best player in the world. The chances of him doing that while playing in Brazil are zero.” Neymar added that  it was a “dream” of his “to play in Europe”.

There’s nothing against a football player wanting to play for one of the biggest teams in the world, and those teams are in Europe. But it is a familiar desire amongst the wealthy Brazilian elite to leave the country (they have the power to change, rather than rob from) and in which they have made their fortune to hide their money in Cayman Islands bank accounts or spend it on handbags, iPhones and suits in New York and Europe.

In 2005 a senior politician in Lula’s government was seized at an airport with $100,000 in his underwear as part of the Mensalão corruption saga.

6) He’s not afraid of backing out on a promise: Neymar promised his youth club Santos he wouldn’t leave them until after the 2014 World Cup. Santos consequently doubled his wages to raise him to European footballer salary levels.

…And in 2013 Neymar signed for Barcelona, anyway.

Politicians are familiar with breaking promises. A trainline between Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro promised for the 2014 World Cup has, as of today, never even started. A huge number of World Cup projects remain unfinished or were never started. Belo Horizonte’s metro system was supposed to be extended for the World Cup. As of today it has one line.

Dilma, Cade o Metro? ("Where is the Metro?")
Dilma, Cade o Metro? (“Where is the Metro?”)

So there you have it; six reasons why Neymar represents everything that wrong with Brazil and its wealthy elite.

FIFA won’t pay any tax to the Brazilian government on its sales and merchandise at the 2014 World Cup

In 2002, Japan and South Korea spent 10 billion reals (£2.8bn, $4.4bn) each on hosting the World Cup,  and (after taxes) FIFA made a profit of 3 billion reais.

In 2006, Germany spent 9 billion reais on its World Cup, and (after taxes) FIFA made a profit of 5 billion reais.

In 2010, South Africa spent 11 billion reais on its World Cup, and (after taxes) FIFA made a profit of 6 billion reais.

In 2014, Brazil has already spent 35 billion reais on hosting the FIFA World Cup. And for the first time ever, FIFA will be exempt from paying all taxes to the Brazilian Treasury.

As a result, FIFA stands to profit 15 billions reais from the 2014 Brazil World Cup.

FIFA told Brazil it would only allow the country to host the World Cup if it made the football organisation exempt from imported goods taxes (IPI), the contribution to Social Security Financing (Cofins) on imported goods and services, and the Contribution to the Programs for Social Integration and Heritage Formation of the Public Servant ( PIS-Pasep) on imports.

The savings from FIFA not paying tax amount to around 2.5 billion reais. That’s money that would have gone into the government coffers that will now remain in Switzerland, where FIFA has charitable status and pays almost no taxes anyway.

“Brazil stands to win a lot more by the stimulating effect on the economy,” said the Brazilian sports minister Orlando Silva back in 2010. Brazil’s economy has slowed to 0.2 per cent in the run up to the World Cup, an indication that huge sporting events don’t bring quite the stimulus politicians were expecting, although it has made a few people very rich.

If nothing else, Brazilians should be angry that FIFA is paying no tax for the sales it makes on its merchandise. It’s giving nothing back to the country financially. It’s also using an army of unpaid volunteers to make sure the World Cup goes well. Protests against the government are already shutting down entire highways in Belo Horizonte – it will be interesting to see how many protests flare up in the next few weeks.


Behind-the-scenes video tour of Brazil’s $270-an-hour Love Motel “Le Monde”, in Belo Horizonte

Last Friday I visited Belo Horizonte’s most expensive and luxurious “love motel” Le Monde for a behind-the-scenes tour. It’s absolutely not what I expected from a motel, or even a five-star hotel. The level of luxury is astounding.

This drive-in motel on the outskirts of the city is a place where, for just £160 ($270) an hour(!), clients have access to their own private pool and jacuzzi, as well as beds with mirrored ceilings, steam-rooms and sex-furniture. Of the more interesting aspects, the motel offers sex-toy room-service, private underground nightclubs (available for a mere 5,000 reais a night) and retractable roofs (to bathe under the stars).

Above all, it offers absolute discretion for you and your girlfriend, wife, mistress or prostitute.

Have look at the video:

Now, although it may seem seedy to visit a motel for a few hours to have sex, this is an entirely normal act in a country in which one in four Brazilians live with their parents long into their 30’s. Young lovers go there to celebrate their one-year anniversaries, for example.

All of my friends I asked about the motels said they had visited them, often regularly in the case of those with girlfriends and boyfriends. Having a motel to take your lover is crucial when your parents sleep in the bedroom next to you.

The "Japan" themed room at Le Monde love motel.
The “Japan” themed room at the “Le Monde” love motel.

Motels are also legally required to offer the utmost privacy for their clients. Garbage from the room is kept in a closed garage until it’s disposed of in an unmarked truck. Staff deliver food and drink through a network of hidden corridors that run behind the rooms, and revolving cupboards mean staff never even see the client.

The whole transaction, from parking up and entering the room from the garage, to ordering food and then settling the bill, can all be done without any face-to-face interaction.

You could do it completely naked and no-one would know.

The entrance to Le Monde's most luxurious and expensive room.
The entrance to Le Monde’s most luxurious and expensive room.

What’s more, overseas tourists visiting Brazil for the 2014 World Cup are set to be staying, whether knowingly or unknowingly, in these love motels. Ricardo, Le Monde‘s General Manager, confirmed 500 tourists from China, Finland, the UK, the US and Arabic states have all made reservations at his love motel. 

I guarantee they will enjoy their stay there.

This is a high-end luxury motel, and its cleanliness and professionalism reflect that. For my next trip I’ll try and visit the cheapest one I can find and report back on my findings. Love motels get as low as 20 reais an hour here (about £5, $8), so it could get pretty seedy.

A ticket for the final of the 2014 Brazil World Cup will cost three times the monthly minimum salary of the average Brazilian

2014 Brazil World Cup opening game ticket: £264

Final game ticket: £550

Monthly minimum wage in Brazil: *£195* 

A ticket for the final of the 2014 Brazil World Cup will cost three times the monthly minimum salary of the average Brazilian. 

A ticket for the final of the 2014 Brazil World Cup will cost three times the monthly minimum salary of the average Brazilian

This is the face-value cost, too. They’ll be exchanging hands for ten times that when England get to the final against the Socceroos.

Teachers in Minas Gerais are still on strike, incidentally, asking for a 15 per cent increase in salary after three years of no salary increased and inflation running at 8 per cent per year.

They join sanitation workers on strike. The timing of the strike is well-chosen. There is no other job that more visually impacts a city than when sanitation workers go on strike.

With tourists set to arrive in two weeks the mayor of Belo Horizonte wants it all wrapped up, but he still won’t agree to the salary hikes.

And people ask why Brazilians are angry about spending all that money on stadiums… It’s great for tourism and the “image” of Brazil, but where does it leave ordinary people?

Sanitation workers on strike so the garbage is piled up high in Brazil

Brazil signs first “Internet Constitution” into law, with social media protest loopholes

Brazil has signed the Marco Civil da Internet, hailed as the first ever “Internet Constitution“, or “Internet Civil Rights” bill. It’s been designed to create a “free, creative and secure” web, and includes a lot of fair use policies and protections for the average user.

Marco Civil grants stronger powers to the Brazilian government to remove content with judicial decree, which seems pretty troubling ahead of predicted protests during the 2014 World Cup. Especially as previous protests in Brazil were co-ordinated through social media sites like Facebook and Twitter.

Although content can only be removed following a court order, an exception allows the immediate exclusion of “certain material” even prior to analysis by the Justice Courts (“abre uma exceção que permite a exclusão de determinados materiais antes da análise da Justiça”, Seção III, Art. 21), according to Sérgio Amadeu da Silveira, a member of Brazil’s Comitê Gestor da Internet no Brasil.

This provides a loophole for politicians, big businesses and private individuals to remove harmful content immediately, without a court order.

This could be helpful when trying to prevent protesters arrange a riot on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter, or criticising brands for their support in corrupt practices.