Anilava Chatterjee, Sochi: I again saw Walsh today after four long years. He is still the same. Shock hair, tanned skin and the same old and famous yellow jersey. I first saw him at Belo Horizonte. In that game Brazil was knocked out of the semifinal of the World Cup after facing a humiliating 7-1 loss against defending champions Germany. Ahead of the start of the game I saw a man playing drum with a lot of Brazilian supporters. The fans started to chant ole ole. I met Walsh for the first time there. After that I again saw him at Rio’s Copa Cabana beach just ahead of the final. He was sitting there with two other people and was in grief. One of them was well known to the world on that time. After the disaster against Germany the world saw an old man crying with the replica of the World Cup. His picture spread in all parts of the World. Remembering his old friend Walsh said that,” After that incident Gaucho died next year. You can say he gave his life in the ground. He was very ill after the World Cup but still he went to Chili to cheer our team in Copa America. We stayed together all the time. Many times he felt a bit ill in the ground and I used to provide him medicines. Just after returning from there he breathed his last. If we win the World Cup here we will dedicate the trophy to him.” That day of 2014 has been marked as one of the darkest day in the history of world football. Gauso is no more between us. Fil Scholari has gone in exile from his coaching career. David Luiz is now a well known face in club football.
And now Walesh and other Brazilian supporters are again hoping to win the World Cup. He said that almost 60000 Brazilian supporters are coming to Russia to back the Selecao and that means we will again see jam packed yellow galleries during Brazil’s matches. Again we will see the passionate green and yellow filling the stands slowly. Walsh kept saying,” It was tough, believe me! We all lost our faith on this team. None of us thought that we could make a comeback from there. That defeat still pinches us like a thorn. But except relying on our boys, we didn’t have too many options left.” Do you know how the belief returned? I asked him. The reply was, “The entire team has got changed. Coach, support staff, majority of the players. Scholari couldn’t change himself according to the time. But this team can win us the world cup. Every Brazilian believes this.
Walesh’s apparent address is just outside the Brazil base camp. In the next one month all the travelling Brazilian fans will stay here only. They will sing, dance and assemble all the love in the world for their favourite team.
Though there has been immense security measures in the base camp. The entire Brazil team is now at the Swisshotel in Brazil. The hotel authority welcomed them with a huge banner.
Outside of the hotel, there has been a “temporary” base camp for the journalists as well. Not only the Globo TV journalists, I found journalists from other countries as well. There is a frive way after the main gate of the hotel. Hoodwinking the securities, when I entered in to the hotel campus, I needed to walk a bit more.
The second phase of the security check in was just on the entrance of the building. But yes, I didn’t introduce myself as a journalist. By hiding my identity I had to enter the hotel. At first I said I want to go to the restaurant and the security personnel gave me the permission. Beside the restaurant there is a long tares and just beneath that I saw a swimming pool. One can see Black sea also from there. Just beside that there is a rail track and I saw a few trains passed by too. And from now on Neymar, Thiago Silva and other Brazilian footballers will stay here for the World Cup.
The whole hotel is wrapped with Brazilian flags. One can see a huge yellow and green ball just at the opposite side of the reception desk. It is decorated with yellow and green balloons.
I can see Brazil’s flag as well on the mirror of the lift. They have built an artificial ground at the counter of the restaurant which also has little statues of the Brazilian footballers. They have built a replica of the World Cup there.
The footballers are coming here for their breakfast, lunch and dinner. There I met Thomas Gregor. He is the head of marketing and sales of Swissotel. He said,” I have been talking with them for last two years. They have been thinking of forming their base camp since then. The people from the Brazilian federation came here several times to get all the details. At last in January they confirmed us that they will stay here during the tournament. And Swisotel is totally ready to welcome the five time champions at their hotel. Thomas was saying,” The Brazilian team is very down to earth. They don’t have any additional demand. They only want an environment like home and we are trying our level best to do that.” They have changed their ball room to gymnasium for the Selecaos. The Brazilian team management has brought their apareters with them. The hotel authority has also built a family lounge. As these players don’t have permission to stay with their family they will meet their wives and children at that lounge. The team management has also brought two chefs with them. With the executive chef of the hotel they too will look after the foods of the footballers. The chefs of the hotel are making foods for the footballers with their permission. They are cooking pizza, pasta, chicken, shaman fish and many other dishes as well.
Chamelia’s Sochi Swissotel is covered by three sides. One side it has black sea and the other side has a private park. It also has the forest of farh, pine and palm trees. The other side has a small stadium. It has the capacity of 5000 people and Neymar & co will start their practice tomorrow there. I tried to enter the stadium but was stopped by the security guards. They said,” Come here tomorrow. The team will have an open session.” Though I got the images from a bridge near the stadium. The Brazilian media has already started a chaos regarding this matter. They have started saying that anyone can see the practice sessions of Selecaos from the bridge or from the houses close to the ground. The oppositions can easily send a spy to see Brazil’s practice.
The Brazilian team and their media will have to face another problem there which is present just outside the stadium. Just outside the hotel anyone can see a giant hoarding of Argentine fans and the team. And it is known to all that it won’t be a good scenery for the whole Brazilian team. Think about East Bengal TD Shubhash Bhowmick is to East Bengal club passing Gostha Pal statue and he sees a Mohun Bagan flag or a placard of Sony Norde. Will he be happy?