The Brazilian embassy in Doha has issued 516 visas since April for Qatar’s residents to watch the 2014 FIFA World Cup live, Brazil’s ambassador Heller Brandon Valladares has said.
Speaking to Gulf Times on the eve of the World Cup opener in Sao Paulo, the envoy said another 120 residents - who do not require visas to travel to Brazil or are entitled to visas on arrival - are also understood to be travelling to his country for the football extravaganza, which Brazil is hosting after 64 years.
Valladares expects a few more residents to apply for visas in the next few days. “On an average, the embassy received 12 visa applications from soccer fans every day since we started the process in April,” he said.
Speaking about the excitement among the country’s 900-plus Brazilians on their country hosting the World Cup, the ambassador said: “Brazilians in Qatar are as excited and overwhelmed as their nearly 200mn compatriots back home and spread all over the world”.
“As many football lovers may know, the World Cup is returning to Brazil after six decades and so we are calling it the Cup of Cups. Such is our country’s passion for the game,” he stressed.
Valladares said that he and his compatriots were glad that people in Qatar want to be part of the excitement surrounding the mega event. “We are very happy to welcome all nationalities to our country during the great event.”
“I am running out of words while enjoying the excitement of our countrymen living here and also while seeing the enthusiasm of this country’s residents regarding the greatest sporting spectacle of recent times,” said the envoy, who arrived in Qatar more than two years ago.
The ambassador feels Brazil has gained more visibility in Qatar in the last two years and a growing number of professionals from the Latin American nation are employed in prominent local companies and institutions at present. “Our community has been continuously growing in the last couple of years and we are close to 900 here now,” he added.
The fact that both Brazil and Qatar are hosting World Cups has enhanced bilateral co-operation between the two governments at different levels, he said.
The ambassador is also happy that many Qatari officials are now in Brazil to gain valuable experience for hosting the 2022 World Cup. “Also, the Qatar Brazil 2014 Year of Culture has been a major factor in raising awareness about our presence in this country and Qatari presence in Brazil.”
Answering a query on Brazil’s possible engagement in Qatar after the 2014 World Cup, Valladares said he didn’t expect any major role for his compatriots in Qatar in promoting the 2022 edition of the event. “This is a task incumbent only upon Qatar and FIFA,” he said.
He, however, added that Brazil and Qatar have started a fruitful dialogue on football and an important co-operation between the two governments is developing fast for the benefit of both countries.
The exercise, said the ambassador, would bring about positive results, which he said would contribute to the resounding success of the first World Cup to be hosted by an Arab country eight years from now.
Brazil, he said, would not spare any co-operative efforts in this regard.
While the Brazilian embassy is unable to hold any special event for football fans in Qatar due to the “huge difference in time zones and a tight schedule”, Valladares said he was “extremely happy that some hotels, where Brazilian restaurants are functioning, and a few other establishments are making arrangements for people to watch the World Cup matches live”.
Like many soccer enthusiasts, the ambassador, too, hopes that his country will win the World Cup this year.
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