South America is making a statement this FIFA World Cup. Chile is 2-0-0, eliminating Spain 2-0 in its latest victory. Colombia is 2-0-0 with a goal differential of +4. Argentina is 1-0-0 and host Brazil has a win and a draw. Uruguay has one win and one loss, but its victory Thursday came in dramatic fashion over soccer powerhouse England. Ecuador has a one loss in one match, but if it can straighten its game out, South America could have all six competitors reach the knockout stage.
With the FIFA World Cup being played in South America, it is perhaps no surprise the host continent is thriving, and massive in-stadium fan support also should not be a surprise.
But the road for World Cup fans has not been easy this first week of action. The hotels of Brazil, many of which are being primed for the 2016 Summer Olympics, are constantly running out of space.
Chile's significant edge in fan support against Spain was mentioned on-air by ESPN's Ian Darke, although some went too far with their enthusiasm when they stormed the press center. An estimated 20,000 Chileans fans saw the team's 3-1 victory over Australia on June 13, and likely a larger contingent showed up for the Spain win.
A further example of their dedication is that about 3,000 of these Chilean fans are staying at a campsite, according to The Washington Post. The Chilean supporters came together on Facebook to form the camp in Cuiabá, the Brazilian city where the team is based. (During the World Cup, teams are assigned cities for training in between games).
South Africa had 309,000 foreign tourists for the 2010 World Cup. Given its relative proximity to soccer-mad nations, Brazil is expecting 600,000, and the chaos is leaving some people in the dust.
Along with camping, some of which has been done on the beach, foreign fans have taken to living in hostels, renting houses and renting apartments. Former Brazil National Team star Ronaldinho put his Rio de Janeiro mansion up for $15,000 a night.
Airbnb, the Internet service that links travelers with hosts offering rooms, apartments and houses, is now a large part of the World Cup experience. Airbnb says it will host 120,000 tourists from more than 100 different countries.
This all comes in a city that had a 2012 murder rate of 25.2 per 100,000. In comparison, the U.S. rate is 4.7 per 100,000.
As for the connection to the pitch, having fans in the stadiums cannot hurt. In addition to the success of the South American nations, CONCACAF –- North American/Central American -– teams are off to a good start, as well. The United States, Mexico and Costa Rica have already won a match.
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