RIO DE JANEIRO — Like the 185 miles of traffic jams that clog the city of Sao Paulo during the World Cup, Brazilians also find their virtual lives crowded with one-liners such as "Looking for a Brazilian girlfriend" or simply, "Where are you watching the game?"
Some 600,000 fans from 186 countries came to Brazil for soccer and a good time, prompting a download boom for online dating app Tinder.
Francisco Garcia, a 23-year-old Chilean, was scrolling through his smartphone on a beanbag chair in a Rio hostel recently. He said he had never heard of the meetup app in Chile but was told to get on it as soon as he arrived in Brazil.
He said he was happy to meet any women, Brazilian or foreign: "All kinds of gringas, for friendship. It can also be for my romantic life."
With smartphones as ubiquitous as flags and beers in the hands of tourists who throng bars here and data plans as cheap as 25 cents a day, the app has found fertile territory for growth.
The app presents users with a stream of candidates in a nearby radius. Once two people have marked each other with a heart, they can chat.
Brazil has the highest number of Tinder users after the U.S. and Britain, according to Rosette Pambakian, a Tinder spokesperson. The average Tinder user spends approximately 77 minutes on the app, up by nearly 50% in Brazil since the start of the World Cup.
The app is favorable to users looking to date men – worldwide, about 55 percent of the app's users are men.
Carol Chang, a 28-year-old designer from Sao Paulo, was so impressed with the stream of gringo male candidates coming through that she and her friends created a blog, "Tinder na Copa," to post hundreds of screenshots of their favorite foreign men.
But Argentine cousins Ezequiel and Daniel Pinilla, 26 and 32, said they were not interested in using their phones to meet people. "We do it the old-school way," said Ezequiel, who added they had met plenty of people in the streets.
Asked how his romantic life had been during the World Cup, he answered, "perfect."