Just like any other global sporting event, the FIFA Confederations Cup South Africa 2009 can be enjoyed in a variety of ways. This may involve watching the world's elite perform at the very best of their ability, sampling the atmosphere at some of the finest stadiums on the planet, or meeting fellow sports enthusiasts from all walks of life and learning about them and their culture. And falling most definitely into the latter category was the presence of the most beautiful women from the eight competing nations.
Indeed, at FIFA's invitation, Miss Brazil, Miss United States, Miss New Zealand, Miss Egypt, Miss Iraq, Miss Spain, Miss Italy and Miss South Africa were all in attendance to add further lustre to the Festival of Champions. FIFA.com spoke to the Spanish and Brazilian representatives prior to 25 June's semi-final between the Seleção and the host nation.
The beautiful game
First to give her views was Spain's Patricia Rodriguez, who admits to being a keen player herself. "I love football, especially playing it. When I was a little girl at school you'd always find me chasing after a ball with the lads," she says, proudly wearing a La Roja jersey. "Yes, I was really sad to see Spain go out. I was watching the match with my Brazilian counterpart, who was very nice about it and didn't make fun of me."
Said Brazilian colleague is a fellow brunette, 22-year-old Tamara Almeida. "I'm from Minas Gerais and I love Cruzeiro," says Tamara, who is wearing Brazil's blue second strip as a tribute to the Belo Horizonte outfit. "This is the first time I've seen the national team live and it's marvellous! It's a real thrill to be sampling the atmosphere and excitement with so many people."
Also with a keen interest in club football is 18-year-old Patricia, whose hometown club Tenerife have just earned promotion to the Spanish top flight. Tamara, meanwhile, has been keeping an eye on Cruzeiro's progress via the internet during her time away and is confident the club can reach the final of this year's Copa Libertadores. With both girls having also visited South Africa in late 2008 for the Miss World competition and to take part in the FIFA Confederations Cup draw, they are very keen to come back to the Rainbow Nation for next year's FIFA World Cup™ finals.
‘A wonderful experience'
They have certainly been kept busy over the course of their stay, with a jam-packed schedule of events and presentations to attend. "That's true, but we've got nothing to complain about," says Patricia. "We've been to different towns around South Africa and we've had the chance to get to know the people here. It's a wonderful experience."
Tamara, who speaks Portuguese, Spanish and Chinese, is rapidly turning into a veteran traveller to South Africa, as she explains: "This is my fifth visit here, so I almost feel South African myself by now! People treat me really well every time I come and I love everything to do with African culture. That said, tonight I'm going to be supporting Brazil."
As the interview draws to a close, thanks to the sheer number of people wishing to have their photo taken with the dazzling duo, we asked them to choose just one wish for the remainder of the tournament. "I've got to try and get hold of a match ball for my little brother. He's a Real Madrid fan and I promised I'd get him one," said Patricia, while Tamara's wish is even closer to fruition after Dunga's charges beat Bafana Bafana 1-0 on Thursday: "I'm just hoping Brazil will the tournament!"