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The Smallest World Cup Host City

Cuiabá is Brazil’s smallest World Cup host city and perhaps the most unexpected.
People think in Mato Grosso state there are Indians, leopards, monkeys walking down the street. In the big cities, they still think that way. They forget that Mato Grosso has one of the largest agricultural and ranching industries in the country.
Some of the country’s greatest riches are in Mato Grosso; not just farming and ranching, but also minerals.
A city of half-a-million people, Cuiabá is better known for soybeans than for soccer.
I never expected, I never even dreamed that Cuiabá would be a World Cup host city. A lot of tourists have come – people we have only seen on television.
Korea! Russia! Brazil! Brazil! Brazil!
Very interesting city; we try to eat local. It is very excellent, very tasty. People: very, very smiling people.
We have hard time communicating because we…none of us speak Portuguese. But the people here are amazing. They are so kind. Even today on the way to the stadium, like, there were people who wanted to give us a ride. So we got a free ride here.
Even when locals and tourists don’t speak a common language, playing soccer gives them an opportunity to interact.
This is our first chance to actually play with the locals so it’s…we’re interested to see how they go. Because we never play and they look like they know how to play. And they’re playing in bare feet and we playing in Umbros, so...
We come from a city in Australia called Adelaide. We’ve never heard of Cuiabá but it’s a beautiful place. It’s near the jungle and…we’ll …we’ve been told it’s near the jungle. We don’t actually know.
Although Cuiabá has no first-division soccer team and the Brazilian team isn’t playing here, residents say the world cup is putting Cuiabá on the map.
This has been very important for us, especially with the construction projects and city planning that were badly needed. Wherever you go these days, there are tourists. So it’s giving people contact. They can exchange information and show what Cuiabá’s people are like. So I think it’s very positive.

Source: nytimes

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