Have you been to a World Cup or are you planning to attend Brazil 2014?
Open thread: If you have been to a World Cup or are planning a trip next summer, we want to hear about your experiences
Once you have been to a World Cup, it's difficult to imagine not going to the next one. I went to my first finals three years ago, in South Africa, and would recommend that anyone with even the slimmest interest in football starts saving for Brazil now.
The 2010 World Cup has not gone down as a classic. The champions scored eight goals in seven matches; the final was a dour battle ruined by an overly physical Holland team; and no one will want to kick the Jabulani ball or hear the vuvuzela horns in 2014.
But, for those of us in the crowds at Soccer City or Ellis Park stadium, these things rarely mattered. When you're sitting beside a topless Ghanaian fan who is wearing what looks like a burning plantpot on his head, the quality of the football becomes a secondary concern.
Even the vuvuzelas took on a different life within the grounds, with each set of fans adopting their own technique. During Brazil's 3-1 defeat of Ivory Coast – before which I was offered a DVD from some Christian evangelists keen to exploit Kaká's faith and during which Kaka was sent off – the Brazil fans beeped their horns like impatient drivers stuck in a Johannesburg traffic jam. The Ivory Coast supporters saved their breath until their team was on the attack and then launched into an all-out deafening drone as if they could somehow blow the ball into the net.
During a World Cup, the lives of even the most disorganised football fans take shape around the fixtures on their wall charts. It's not so different when you're out there, but the off-days have more significance. South Africa offered Kruger National Park, the Garden Route and Vilakazi Street. On days between matches, fans could visit the Apartheid Museum, climb Table Mountain or meet Mick Jagger at a penguin sanctuary near Cape Point (maybe that was just me).
Brazil will be no different, with Christ the Redeemer, Copacabana Beach and the Iguazu Falls leading the way for sunburnt England fans (should their team qualify). These vast countries are worth exploring at any time, but when they play host to the football fans of the world, where else would you rather be?
In the build-up to any tournament there is always a plethora of stories about the disaster that is waiting to happen: infrastructure is incomplete; stadiums are unfinished; transport is jammed; tickets are unsold; and everyone should be very worried.
The finals in Brazil next summer could be the tournament when the cries of wolf are remembered after the first ball is kicked. But, more likely, it will prove a wild success and give anyone who has saved enough money and stockpiled enough holidays to make the trip one of the experiences of their lives.
If you're planning to visit Brazil next summer or have been to a previous tournament, share your story in the comments section below and we will post them above the line.
Share your World Cup story in the comments section below
Tagged with: World Cup
Filed under: Euro 2012
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