From trading stickers to watching the games live, soccer fans at FIU and around the world are witnessing the culture of a truly global sport in action. A few years ago in 2003, FIFA appointed Brazil to once again host the FIFA World Cup and all the pride and culture that accompanies it. Today, hundreds of thousands of people, including myself, have traveled to the region in the hopes of experiencing this unique atmosphere.
The Brazilians are a proud people with their national flag hanging at every corner. Even in passing the poorest of neighborhoods one could look down the smaller streets and see a flurry of green and yellow banners hanging from building to building. It seems as if the different neighborhoods of Brazil have at least momentarily buried their struggles to celebrate the sport and their country. This pride was displayed in the first game of the knockout rounds against Chile. It only took one game to restore a complete assurance (if they even needed any) that they could raise the golden trophy at the end of the tournament.
One of the first things I noticed upon arriving to the match was the stadium itself. The stadium did not match the photo on my World Cup app, in fact the exterior appeared somewhat bare and incomplete. Rumors had circulated of unfinished stadiums but I had expected it to be less noticeable; still, this did not affect the liveliness and emotion within the stadium.
The game was played and watched with a level of emotion that remains unparalleled to anything I have ever seen. Throughout there was a bombardment of prideful Brazilian chants and creative obscenities directed towards the players and referees, telling them to put certain things in certain places. When the game turned to penalty kicks, the emotions only heightened. Grown men turned away from the field, unable to bear the suspense, while others bent to the floor. It was later reported that even a 69-year-old Brazilian died of heart failure while watching the penalty shootout in a bar nearby. Neymar Jr. himself spent the majority of the shootout bent on his knees in prayer. After making the final penalty kick for Brazil and Gonzalo Jara’s failed attempt, the mostly Brazilian crowd exploded in celebration. Beer and men were being thrown around as the relieved players hugged their fellow teammates.
Photo via Creative Commons