Of all of the hilarious and awesome terminology that we learned in South Africa during the 2010 World Cup, one of our favorites was The Donovan.
We were in Melrose Arch one night when group of American guys explained to us that The Donovan is what they call a thumbs up. We immediately adopted the term as our own.
Landon Donovan is forever giving his teammates a thumbs up. When a teammate does well, he’ll clap twice and then stick his thump up. Inspirational, right?
Nearly as inspirational as it was watching Donovan score against Algeria while stuck in traffic on a South African highway. Or witnessing him score on that penalty shot against Ghana in the Round of 16.
We fully expected to see more of Landon Donovan’s greatness in Brazil but, in a very gutsy move, Jurgen Klinsmann cut our Landycakes from the U.S. Men’s National Team last week.
It’s sad. And, quite frankly, it is wrong. He isn’t the player who he used to be but he’s Landon Donovan! The things he’s done for American soccer! The leadership and experience that his mere presence brings!
Jurgen Klinsmann was hired to coach the U.S. Men’s National Team and, presumably, he made the decision that he felt was best for the team. It’s done. It’s over. But, Landon Donovan not getting to retire from international competition on his own terms? No Donovans up for that.
When FIFA’s ticket resale portal opened, we listed the extra set of tickets that we had won for the Round of 16 match in Recife.
As it’s a knockout match, we assumed that the tickets would sell. FIFA would keep 10% of the profits and we’d move on with our lives. Easy enough.
Nothing with FIFA is easy, however; we crossed our fingers and listed our tickets.
A few days later, it appeared that our tickets were already sold.
Could it be?
It couldn’t be. If FIFA is anything, it is confusing and surely “refund pending” didn’t actually mean “refund pending.”
But maybe it did.
We logged on to see if there were any tickets available for that match.
We took it as a good sign. They’re sold? They’re really sold? It seemed too good to be true. It seemed far too easy for a FIFA process.
Naturally, we assumed that our refund wouldn’t come until December.
But, miracle of miracles, it has already come through.
Even FIFA gets it right every once and a while.
When we went to the World Cup in 2010, FIFA offered exactly one way to get your tickets: pick them up from a ticket kiosk in South Africa.
Flying around the world without having the tickets to the events you’re flying around the world is a terrifying prospect but, somehow, we and every other World Cup attendee managed to cope.
For the upcoming World Cup in Brazil, FIFA offered fans a choice:
1. Pay to have your tickets mailed to you ahead of the event
2. Collect your tickets in Brazil.
While it is hard to admit that FIFA got something right, the ticket kiosks worked just fine and waiting until we arrive to pick up our tickets means that we can’t accidentally leave them behind on the counter at Chipotle in the airport. So we elected to pick up our tickets in Brazil.
Which, scanning the interwebs tells us, was actually the genius choice because everyone who elected to have their tickets shipped to them:
a. paid extra
b. is totally paranoid about when their tickets are coming because FIFA doesn’t send out shipping notification like a sensible online retailer
c. then has to mail the tickets back to FIFA if they’re planning on reselling any tickets (if you recall, we have a pair of tickets we’re selling back), which gives them less time to be resold
d. may leave their beloved tickets behind on the counter at Chipotle in the airport
Can’t lie: kind of feeling like a World Cup traveler genius.
If you do a World Cup trip like we do a World Cup trip (and you should), one of the most important elements is your match-day outfits.
Who wants to travel halfway around the world and look like they just stopped at the World Cup on their way home from Starbucks?
Coordinate all of your outfits, my friends! This is the World Cup!
Either the World Cup gods were working against us or the shopping gods were on our side because, despite the healthy amount of international soccer gear that we own (a lot of it was necessary for the cold weather in South Africa and is simply too heavy for Brazil), our trip to Brazil has required a bit of outfit coordination.
Without giving too much away, our shopping list looks a little like this:
Italy v. Costa Rica sometimes when you have the ability to upgrade your wardrobe, you should upgrade your wardrobe. +2 shirts.
Croatia v. Mexico number of Mexico jerseys we own: 2, number of Mexico jerseys we will be wearing: 0. We attempted to root for our neighbors to the south and we learned our lesson. +2 shirts.
Italy v. Uruguay will we sport the colors of Italy or Uruguay? Stay tuned. +TBD.
USA v. Germany The purchase of obnoxious red, white, blue, stars, stripes and Uncle Sam will be detailed in another post. You have been warned. +all of the patriotism.
Sure, we have no idea how we’ll get from the airport to our hotel. No, we haven’t learned Portuguese.
But we’ll look good.
Look good = feel good.
We’ll figure the rest out later.
Great news on the bureaucratic front: our passports were not even gone long enough for paranoia and anxiety to rear their ugly heads!
Sealing up an envelope with our passports and sending them off to the Brazilian Consulate in Chicago was slightly nerve wracking but, 18 days later, they were safely delivered by the United States Post Office’s finest.
Obtaining the proper documentation is very liberating. It is also absolutely required to gain entrance to Brazil.
Our room in Brazil is a triple.
Remember the rooms that the Canadian men’s hockey team stayed at in Sochi? The rooms that were so spare and tiny that it was impossible to imagine the NHL’s brightest stars were bunking in them for a few weeks? The pictures made rounds on social media during the Olympics earlier this year.
We’re basically staying in those rooms.
The only difference is that our room is in Brazil.
And, if you’re really nitpicking, maybe we don’t exactly qualify as world-class athletes.