Well, well, well. Who’d have thought it? Despite having been drawn in the World Cup ‘group of death’, we’ve made it through to the second round! Team USA got off to a flying start, scoring in the first minute on their way to a 2-1 win over Ghana. Next, we faced Portugal, and were denied a famous victory and an early qualification for the round of 16 when we conceded a late goal to draw 2-2. Finally, Team USA were impressive in losing by only a solitary goal to the much fancied German team, and made it through on goal difference.
Next up, we take on Belgium in the round of 16 tomorrow, a match which will further raise the excitement levels for those that have travelled to Brazil for the tournament and may have expected USA to have gone the way of much more heralded teams like Spain, Italy and England – all eliminated at the group stages. For a nation that has taken its time to embrace soccer – and is likely never to be fully accepted nationwide – you may be surprised to hear that the country where the most World Cup match tickets were bought, outside of Brazil, was – you guessed it – the USA. And back home, too, the ‘the beautiful game’ has been taken to Americans’ hearts. Nearly 16 million of us tuned in for the Ghana game – that’s not far behind the number that watched the basketball finals – and as the USA go deeper (we hope) into the tournament, those figures will surely rise.
For those that took the trip to Brazil, it is surely turning into an unforgettable experience, and money can’t buy the memories they’ll bring home. But money has bought the accommodation, food and drink, and we were interested to know how much World Cup visitors are paying to be there.
The currency used in Brazil is the real, which the replaced the cruzeiro in 1994, as part of a monetary reform plan to bring down inflation. The idea was that the real would be fixed with the US dollar, but by the turn of the millennium, it had been devalued to about 2:1 against USD and fell even further – 4:1 – by 2002. It has since rallied and has more or less spent the last few years at the 2:1 mark. Right now, the exchange rate is BRL 2.16 to USD 1.00.
The cost of living in Brazil is relatively low, with the cost of food and eating being affordable, likewise hotel rooms and travelling by bus. For those eating well, travelling in comfort and staying in good hotels, they can expect to pay in the region of BRL 400 (around $175) per day in Brazil. But, on a budget, it can be done for BRL 125 per day (about $55). Then again, you can bet your bottom dollar that the prices have been hiked up in all the World Cup venues. In Salvador, the cost of a room on match day is three times as much the June and July average.
The cost of a three course meal for two averages BRL 80 ($35), a half liter beer will set you back BRL 5 ($2.20) and a liter of gas BRL 2.93 ($1.30).
But with the USA exceeding all expectations in the World Cup so far, you can’t put a price on the experience those that are there are having. Bring on Belgium.