April 25, 2010 | bfeldman | Travel

Update from Brazil

I spent the prior week in Brazil working as the LEED consultant for Emerson’s project in Sorocaba.  More on that later.

Wednesday of last week was a holiday in Brazil, and as such we only had meetings in the morning – a free afternoon in Sao Paulo.  The client asked us what we’d like to do that day – museums, tour the local architecture, shopping etc…  I told him if possible we’d like to see a real Brazilian soccer match (football).  As it happens there were several matches that week, in fact a team from Columbia (Once Caldas) was staying in our hotel.  They were very friendly guys, often hanging around in the lobby when we got back from meetings.

Columbian Football Team, "Once Caldas".  Tebogo (our Brazilian interpreter) and JDB, center
Columbian Football Team, "Once Caldas". Tebogo (our Brazilian interpreter) and JDB, center

I thought the game would be like attending a baseball game in St. Louis – 7:00 start, assigned seats, people selling beer and brats walking through the stadium.  Not exactly what happens.  Our client Fernando got us tickets to a game between the clubs Sao Paolo FC (arguably the greatest Brazilian team, historically) v. Once Caldas from Columbia.  As it turns out this was a pretty important game for first place in the division.  The game starts at 9:50 p.m. and lasts a hour and a half.  Basically, it lasts till practically midnight.  Nevermind that everyone in the stadium has to be at work the next morning.  The game was sold out, so I’m not exactly how Fernando came up with the tickets, but he’s pretty resourceful!

Fernando would only allow us to go to a game between a local Sao Paulo team vs. a team from another country.  Matches between local teams can be dangerous – lots of fighting.  We took a car from the hotel – it took an hour to make our way through the horde of people walking towards the stadium.  We finally made our way into the stadium from one of many gates leading in.

Their were 3 tiers to the stadium.  We had seats in the middle tier.  The upper tier was completely packed.  These were the super fans.  From the moment we entered the stadium till after we left there was a constant drumbeat/chanting from 65,000 fans.  It was one of the most amazing things I’ve ever heard.  The fans were much more a part of the game than any sporting event I’ve ever attended.

Super fans on the upper tier unfurl a huge banner with the team logo
Super fans on the upper tier unfurl a huge banner with the team logo
View of the game in progress
View of the game in progress

The stadium had several distinct differences from a US stadium.  First, there was almost no advertising (all for that one). No beer sold at the game, for obvious reasons.  There were seat numbers on our tickets, but everyone sat where they pleased.  We found seats towards the end of the field, at the rail.  There we some Sao Paulo FC fans next to us who kept up a constant stream of shouted profanity (so I’m told from Tebogo, who learned several new Portuguese swear words).  Next to them was a man who barked like a dog throughout the entire match.  He was there with what I assume was a son or nephew who had a great time routing on his team.

SPFC fan taking in the game
SPFC fan taking in the game

Sao Paulo won the match 1 -0.  Everyone left happy!  This was without a doubt one of the most memorable sporting events I’ve ever attended.  If you find yourself in South America and can attend a soccer match I’d highly recommend it.

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