Brazil loves it futbol. They call it o jogo bonito (the beautiful game). It’s not just a sport but rather an art form, a means of self-expression. When I was still in Rio, I got the opportunity to see a soccer game between Rio’s extremely popular Flamengo and Atletico Miniero of the state of Minas Gerais. A game at the famous Maracana Stadium? Being the sports fan that I am, I couldn’t pass it up.
You would have thought that this was the World Cup or a championship game. Nope! It was the end of the regular season right before the playoffs! The crowds were GINORMOUS, already loud, and we hadn’t made it in to see the game yet. I doubt that even half of these people had tickets. They were just hanging out, singing and drinking in the street.
It was getting a little chaotic outside the stadium, and no one had even taken the field yet!
The Brazilian Portuguese name for the upper deck seats.
Mind you, I STILL haven’t gotten to my seat yet, but I already realized that Flamengo’s fans are pretty passionate.
I snuck a quick picture with Flamengo’s mascot.
What was most striking for me as a non-Brazilian was how much energy everyone had BEFORE the game even started. There was so much singing, jumping and flag waving. I don’t think we even get this excited here in the U.S. for just a regular season game (at least not for the ones I’ve been to). That being said, all of the excitement made the atmosphere pretty electric. It also made me forget that the seats we were sitting in were pretty gross.
This guy was a few rows above me and was providing much of the cheering for our tourist-filled section.
Finally the game was about to start! The usual photography session with kids occurred. Can someone explain why there are always kids who accompany the team at the beginning of soccer games?
Many of the spectators kept getting up and wiggling their arms and fingers while the game was going on. Sadly, I had no one to explain to me what it all meant.
After all of the screaming, singing and flag waving, Flamengo, the hometown team lost to what was considered a much less talented team. I think the score was 4-2, if I remember correctly. People started to leave in droves well before the end of the game.
Regardless of the outcome, I had a great time. Flamengo’s fans are hard core, and it definitely made me think about how we consume sports in our country. Are Americans less passionate and reserved sports fans? Since we are inundated with sports every day, do we just take it for granted? I wonder about these questions and still do. Part of me thinks that since we actually live in a country where we can consume sports on a regular basis that perhaps we forget how much fun and special going to a sporting event can be.
When the 2016 Olympics in Rio roll around in a few years, I’m going to see if I can spot my seat. Just kidding (Maracana fits about 90,000 people!)!
Have you been to a sporting event in another country besides your own? What was it like?