Life or Death on the Football Fields of Brazil

Life or Death on the Football Fields of Brazil

Brazilians. They’re a passionate bunch. Brazilians live life with a certain carefree ease. They samba like no one’s watching, they tend to be optimistic in spite of the socio-economic problems that often plague them, and they warmly embrace strangers and make them feel welcome. That is – until it comes to football.  You see, in Brazil, football is not just a simple pastime or a jovial game of soccer. In Brazil, football is the lifeblood and hope of its people. Brazilian football gives favela kids hope that one day they can be the next Pelé or Ronaldinho. Football is a source of national honor and pride that has made Brazil the most successful team in the history of the FIFA World Cup. Not only has the national team qualified for every World Cup competition in the event’s history, but it has won the World Cup for a record five times. In Brazil, football is a religion.

So I knew that our trip to Brazil would be incomplete without witnessing a game at Estádio do Maracanã, an open-air stadium where Rio’s major football clubs play. The game we witnessed was Flamengo vs. Ceara. Since we were in Rio, we were sure to sit on Flamengo’s side since it is the home team. As we waited for the game to start, we noticed that the police began to lineup with their K9 units. That’s interesting, we wondered amongst ourselves.

Soon enough, the game was in full swing. And while the stadium wasn’t full, the crowd was hyped – waving flags and singing popular football cheer songs. We realized that some Ceara fans were sitting a few aisles across from us when the taunting and jeering began.

We witnessed grandfathers and children alike shouting and screaming at Ceara fans. A father patted his son’s shoulder in pride after the young boy flipped Ceara fans the bird. Very interesting.

At the time, we laughed about it in amusement, but I recently realized just how serious and deadly football matches can be after reading this crazy story about a referee in the northern state of Maranhão who stabbed a player to death and was then stoned and quartered on the field by the deceased player’s friends and family. Oh, and this was an amateur match. Not to imply that a non-amateur match would have justified these crimes.

I know that this story doesn’t mean that all Brazilians are that fanatical over football, but it does go to show that in Brazil, a football match can easily take a turn for the worst.

But by all means, when in Brazil, do attend a football match and try to make it to next year’s World Cup if you can. But when at a Brazilian football game, be sure that you sit on the right side and please don’t say or do anything that will get you hurt or killed.

PINNABLE

maracana-stadium-rio-de-janeiro-brazil

Have you experienced a Brazilian football match?

  • Hello! I�ve been reading your blog for a long time now and finally got the courage to go ahead and give you a shout out from Dallas Tx!

    • Dana Carmel

      Thanks so much for reading and commenting! I hope to read more of your comments and reading your blog as well!

  • Daaana!
    Dont worry – Im a big football fan, gone to a few matches and never saw any fights.
    Sometimes there are fights, but in the lower league teams – and even then, it’s the exption, not the normal thing.
    That story in Maranhão, I read too, but it was a v small amateur team from a not safe side of town – and the man who ran the team was drug baron or something – so, not something you will see at most places, not unless you go out into suburbs.
    I dont think Brazil is worse than England, Croatia or Greece – i really dont.
    The WorldCup is gonna be even more chilled, because it’s not a partisan fanbase, but a National one. Ive only been once a Brazil Match, and it really was fantastic, very happy , party atmosphere.
    I think theres gonna be a lot of security as well, but thats probably a good thing – so am v confident if you come, you will good time.
    Here is my photo with best team in Brazil, i think , Sao Paulo!
    http://tinypic.com/view.php?pic=2ppecfb&s=8#.UvlRlc7d2So
    See you at the world cup!
    Come Danaaaa!

    • Dana Carmel

      I haven’t been to many soccer matches and have never been to any in Europe. I’m definitely hoping that the World Cup will be relatively peaceful. I wish that I was going to be there for it! Nice pic, by the way. The stadium looks pretty packed. Thanks for reading! 😉

  • Wow, I’m a Brazilian born an raised and have never been to a soccer match out of fear that fights or worse would break out.
    Brazilians are indeed passionate about soccer, too much to my taste. I alays say that the country should pay more attention in getting an education rather than hope that maybe someday they will become the next big soccer star, but I guess it is how it is.
    Very cool post and very interesting to see such a balanced point of view on the subject! thanks!

    • Dana Carmel

      Thanks for your comment, Monique. I guess I could say the same thing about Americans who are in love with football and basketball. I know people who at one time were willing to face arrest for the sake of defending their team’s honor. I think that sports are just a touchy, sensitive topic in general.

  • Wow! My fiance is a huge football/soccer fan, so I’m sure he’d love to get to Brazil to see a game! Haha, we might be safer watching from the TV though;-)

    • Dana Carmel

      He definitely needs to see a game in Brazil to witness the craziness for himself! 😉

  • I didn’t get round to seeing a football game in Brazil. In fact, I’ve never been to one anywhere! I feel I’ve missed out!

    • Dana Carmel

      You should definitely add that to your to do list while your in New Zealand!

  • How much were you able to see? At first glance, it looked like the seats were close to the actual game, but then I noticed the half wall, field and fence THEN field.

    Oh to answer your question- never been to a football game in Brazil. I don’t like sports, but it would be interesting to attend one in another country.

    I couldn’t help but chuckle at the guy with the ‘Chicago’ jersey at a Brazilian football game.

    • Dana Carmel

      Our seats were great – totally unobstructed views. And I chuckled at that guy with the Chicago jersey too. Guess that’s the only jersey he had that matched his team’s colors!

  • I will not be attending any games 🙂 A very interesting post.

    • Dana Carmel

      Awww…I didn’t mean to discourage you from going to a game! I just think people need to be smart when going.

  • They seem very serious about the game. I’ve only seen the FIFA World Cup so haven’t really seen how rough it can get.

    • Dana Carmel

      Fortunately no fights broke out while we were there, but the mere fact that a lineup of police were on hand with K9s was surprising – I’ve never seen that a sporting event before.

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