Neil's nuggets


Neil Humphreys rounds up what's happening around the grounds, on the streets and beneath the underbelly during the World Cup.



The police presence is undoubtedly heightened in Belo Horizonte. Argentina have been in town and it's becoming increasingly clear that a small minority of hardcore Albiceleste supporters are going out of their way to antagonise the host nation - and vice versa.

In the Savassi neighbourhood where I am staying, some Argentina fans have bordered on the belligerent. On Friday, fighting broke out in the busy town square where live screenings are being staged. The scuffles were minor, but bottles were thrown and police used shock grenades to subdue the crowd.

Savassi now feels like it is under police lockdown, with officers patrolling the roads and stationed at most street corners. During the game between Argentina and Iran, Brazilian supporters near the press box were showered with ice-filled cups and bottles.

The behavior of the majority of South America supporters has of course been impeccable. But greater security measures will undoubtedly be taken should they meet in the final.



In Belo Horizonte's Savassi town square, I met a rather attractive Iranian TV presenter. She emphasised how proud the Iranian people were of Carlos Queiroz's gallant losers against Argentina and how honoured they were to be representing Asia.

I conducted a video interview with her which you can see on the TNP app. But the complaints are coming in already. She tells me her name on the video, but I did ask the spelling. This has irritated one or two viewers. It's not my lack of professionalism that is the issue, but the lack of a full name for the Iranian TV presenter.

Viewers can't google a picture of her. So I've been ordered to get full names and Twitter addresses for all future attractive interviewees. I've also been instructed to find and interview Costa Rican presenter Jale Berahimi at the England game or - basically - don't bother returning to Singapore.


In Sao Paulo, the city was bathed in glorious sunshine for two days. And then, the England team arrived and place was left shivering and soaked for the next 24 hours. The temperature dropped 10C when Roy Hodgson's wayward players wobbled into town. Now look at the above photos.  The first one was taken in Belo Horizonte the day before England arrived. The second one was taken on the morning their plane landed. Even Mother Nature refuses to back the Three Lions.​



Maybe it's unique to Belo Horizonte. Maybe they knew the England fans were coming. But the city's airport has set up a free beer stand beside the baggage carousel, courtesy of the World Cup's official beer sponsor of course. Two insanely tall Brazilian women - it's not every day my 1.94m-tall frame has to look up at a woman - handed out cans of cold Budweiser to waiting fans. The Englishmen struggled to drink with their tongues hanging out. It's the only time I can recall where tourists did not want their luggage to arrive.

The Albiceleste faithful have been out in force since the start of the World Cup but the rivalry between South America's premier footballing nations had been cordial in the opening week of the tournament.

That changed on Friday, however, as fighting broke out between rival supporters in the leafy Savassi neighbourhood - where many Argentines were staying ahead of the game against Iran.

Local reports suggest that partisan chanting led to scuffles, with bottles then being thrown.

The crowds were dispersed by police, who used shock grenades. One Brazilian was injured, although not seriously.

World Cup