Aliens invasion does Belo Horizonte good

Apart from the result of the game this Tuesday, Minas Gerais capital has already gained an unprecedented cosmopolitan experience

iG Minas Gerais | Bernardo Miranda |

Torcedores gregos fizeram a festa antes do duelo diante da Colômbia, na estreia do Mineirão na Copa do Mundo
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Torcedores gregos fizeram a festa antes do duelo diante da Colômbia, na estreia do Mineirão na Copa do Mundo

Getting charmed with the Colombian joy and then getting surprised by the Algerian hope. Gathering forces to cheer against the Argentines, even before their contagious enthusiasm, and then learning from the British how to be sportive before failure. This has been the experience of Belo Horizonte citizens even before being able to go to Mineirão to support the Brazilian squad at a tough match, in which victory only came after an anguishing penalties shootout dispute, against Chile. Today, the city gets ready to greet the championship goodbye - we hope with a triumph over Germany. Despite any results, however, Minas Gerais capital has already gained a cosmopolitan experience, something never seen in its history.

The citizen's skepticism about the Cup gave in right at the first match, that had more than 20 thousand Colombians invading the city. They extended their stay, in some cases, for over a week. "We went to four cities in Brazil, but Belo Horizonte was by far the best one. Mineiros'* hospitality isn't comparable to anyone else's", evaluated Juan Garcia, representing all the Colombians who gained the good graces and the cheers of the supporters in Belo Horizonte.

Chileans and Argentines didn't care about the lack of comfort. Only a parking place for their motorhome or a place to put their tent up was enough for them.  For those without tickets, the important thing was being close to their squad and transforming the city into a tiny part of their country. "We cheer with our souls, and for that we don't need to always be in the stadium", said Argentine Sebastian Rabinowicz, who came from Rosario to Belo Horizonte on a bus with paintings of Pelé, Maradona, Messi and Neymar.

Even already being disqualified, British sang the whole time during the draw 0-0 with Costa Rica. They refused getting out of the stadium after the match and demonstrated that booing isn't always the best reaction before a failure.

With over 140 thousand foreigners, of more than 60 different nationalities, Belo Horizonte managed to, at least, show the world that there is Brazil besides Rio de Janeiro, San Paolo and the Amazon. "Our challenge now is making this experience go beyond the Cup, consolidating the city as a touristic destination for tourists", said Belotur president, Mauro Werckema.

Babel tower

Out of the 58 thousand people that will be in Mineirão for the match this Tuesday (8), at least 20 thousand will be foreigners. That means virtually 50% of Mineirão's capacity. The data have been released by Fifa to Belotur. From that total, only 6.000 will be Germans, and the rest, from different nationalities. The other half will be of Brazilians. The medium occupation rate of hotels in June was 61,31 percent. However, for this Tuesday's match, 100 percent of the hotels in town are occupied.

Negative side

But it hasn't all been good between the supporters in Belo Horizonte. The day before the match between Argentina and Iran, there was a general fight that ruined the friendly atmosphere between Argentines and Brazilians. There was a bottles war, the police needed to intervene, and one person was arrested. Another sad fact was the trampling of a British tourist by a motorcyclist who didn't assist the victim. The tourist has been taken care of in Hospital João XXIII and was already discharged.

Savassi party

Savassi has turned the Fan Fest into a support event and has been the main point for supporters in the capital, besides being foreigners' favourite spot. The parties at the region weren't held only on the days of games in the city: it was almost the stage for an out of season Carnival. Besides the gathering of supporters and the mobilization to watch the matches, the city also presented plenty of opportunities to flirt in a foreign language.

Home on wheels

Argentines and Chileans dismissed the services of the hotels in Belo Horizonte and got to the town to follow their home squads in motorhomes, or carrying tents where they slept at night. Belo Horizonte administration has given Parque Ecológico da Pampulha and Parque Lagoa do Nado to host our South-American neighbour. Only from Chile, more than 800 motorhomes came to town. Besides playing in Belo Horizonte, Argentina and Chile also chose the metropolitan region of the city as their headquarters for training. The Chileans got in Toca da Raposa II and greeted the city goodbye after being eliminated by Brazil in Mineirão. The Argentines are still at Cidade do Galo.

Translated by Raquel Sodré

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