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Published: March 18th 2015
WE WERE THERE! And it was fabulous! Even better than I had imagined it would be: football fans and tourists from all around the world partying, singing and dancing with the local Brazilian supporters, everyone making the best of this unique moment in the history of the sport: the opening ceremony and inaugural game of the World Cup in Brazil! And yes, my parents and I were in Sao Paulo to enjoy! I had been expecting this event in years so you can imagine how pumped up I was in the morning as we were getting ready, painting our faces and putting our soccer jerseys on! We were all supporting Brazil: my parents were wearing their bright yellow Romario and Bebeto’s jerseys (classic 1998 shirts!) with a yellow and green hat for my Dad and a yellow and green wig for my Mom! Haha! I had my beret and my French blue jersey on, but every time a Brazilian fan would talk to me or ask me for a picture I would pull my jersey up to show them I was also wearing the Brazil shirt underneath. Yes, the French were definitely rooting for Brazil: “A frança está com o Brasil!”
We were staying with Sarah, our Rotary Canadian exchange student from 1998, in the suburbs of Sao Paulo. After graduating from university Sarah moved to Brazil to work for an NGO and she fell for the country and… the charming Edi Edinilson! They now have 2 cute kids and the 4 of them live in Santo Andre, in the south east of Sao Paulo. We left early in order to get to the Fan Fest at Praca da Se early to walk around, take photos and enjoy this beautiful day with the other football aficionados. I must admit I was a bit surprised at first around the Santo Andre train station (an hour away from the city center) as nobody was dressed us or seemed to care that the World Cup was about to kick off. A lot of people were actually against the World Cup as they thought the Brazilian government wasted money on new stadiums instead of investing on education and health. I do understand. At the same time I believe that most people actually got the day off (or at least the afternoon off) every time the Brazilian football team was playing! My point is football
is a religion in Brazil, but it didn’t look like it at first in Santo Andre, although cars, gas stations, shops and schools were all decorated in yellow and green.
But then as we arrived towards the city center, we started feeling it! Groups of fans were all gathering, singing, taking pictures with one another: lots of Colombians, Argentineans and Mexicans. There were actually very few European fans in Sao Paulo. I think that European TV channels had warned people about so many safety issues in SP that the European all flew to Rio. Even the Lonely Planet guidebook starts its description of SP saying “Sao Paulo is a monster. Enormous, intimidating and, at first glance at least, no great beauty. It’s a difficult city for the traveler to master and one that may not seem worth the sweat. Even the most partisan paulistano will rail about the smog, the traffic, the crumbling sidewalks and the gaping divide between poor and rich.
” It’s true that if we only had 10 days to visit Brazil we might not have bothered with SP… But we had 2 months in Brazil and the best friends there!
What was great about being
The Chirons + Sarah and Camillo! Vamos Brasil!
Et ils sont ou, et ils sont ou, et ils sont ou les Bresiliens?!!
On veut un 3-0!!!!
in Sao Paulo was that we got to mingle with the locals, the real fans, not the rich ones who could afford the thousand dollar tickets for the opening game, but the families or youth that decided to go to the Fan Fest to share the moment, just like us. And man, was it fun! We laughed about each other’s costumes; we talked football, teased each other, guessed who would win the first game and the entire competition… The Mexicans were singing, the Colombians were taking pictures of their gorgeous ladies, the Argentines dancing, the Brazilians kissing… We were on another planet! My parents kept laughing and I think they couldn’t really believe their eyes nor realize they were there, in Brazil for the World Cup!
We met a few young Chinese tourists too. They laughed when I started making fun of the Chinese football team in mandarin! You need to know that their national football team has been the laughing stock in China for the past 10 years. They regularly get their butts kicked really badly by smaller nations like Thailand, South Korea or Uzbekistan… But I hope French coach Alain Perrin can help them qualify for the
Bon dia Sao Paulo!
We are ready for the World Cup!
2018 World Cup.
We took a break from the crowd to have lunch (surrounded by the socceroos: the Aussie fans) and climb up the Edificio Martinelli to enjoy incredible vistas of Sao Paulo. Wow! If you ever get to SP, you have to make it up there on a clear day. Everyone knows that SP is a huge city but from high above, we really realized how far it spreads out and how dense the city is. I can assure you, you will never see as many skyscrapers at the same time in your life!
Back at the Fan Fest, everyone was cheering, whistling and chanting as the Brazil and Croatia teams entered the stadium to warm up. The ladies enjoyed the interview of soccer star Kaka (even though he was omitted from Brazil’s World Cup squad) and the men cheered as the cameramen focused on a few sexy samba dancers!
Alright, you football fans, let’s get the elephant out of the room: everyone knew that Brazil was going to win this first game. It was the kick-off of a month of partying everywhere across the country. The tourist industry, the sponsors, the politicians, even the police
needed Brazil to win to ensure the promotion of the World Cup, as well as everyone’s safety and happiness. And too bad for the Croatian fans, but you guys didn’t stand a chance. The FIFA knew it, we knew it, the referee knew it! And the plot was perfect: Croatian players surprised everyone by controlling the first 30 minutes of the game: the Europeans seemed faster and stronger. Croatia scored a beautifully constructed goal and the entire Fan Fest went quiet… A few minutes later, #10 Brazilian superstar Neymar elbowed Croatia’s key-player in the throat but only received a yellow card… Everyone was so tense on and off the field! The fans’ worries finally disappeared when #10 Neymar (him again!) adjusted a perfect free kick beyond the outstretched fingers of the Croatian goalkeeper. 1-1! The Fan Fest imploded: beer cups were thrown up in the air, everyone was jumping up and down; people screamed and hugged one another: the party could start! In the second half, over-talented and spontaneous Neymar and Oscar reminded the entire world why Brazilian football was fun to watch with their mazy runs in the middle of the field. But sadly Brazil only scored a 2nd
Watching the game with the locals.
Good life! Very friendly atmosphere
goal after the referee was duped by experienced (sly) Brazil striker, Fred, who fell over in the penalty area and pretended to be taken down… The replay leaves no room for hesitation: Fred is an actor! What a scandal! Neymar scored the penalty, but only just. Croatia goalkeeper had both hands on the ball, but couldn’t prevent it from going past him. Shocking! I felt like I would have stopped that shot!!! My Dad and I looked at each other: we didn’t need to talk, we both knew this was more than dodgy. Millions of Brazilians exulted around us! I must admit, we didn’t celebrate like on the first goal. Controversy didn’t stop there though as Croatia scored a valid goal at the 83rd
minute but the ref sanctioned a nonexistent foul on the Brazil goalkeeper… Shame again! As the game was almost over and Croatian players made one last-ditch effort to score, Oscar counter attacked and scored Brazil’s third, at the end of a long run. The young player, apparently unable to summon enough energy to get past the last defender, showed brilliant improvisational skills to toe-poke a low drive home from distance. It was beautiful! 3-1! The die
was cast! Fans around us went berserk! It was insane and amazing to see so much happiness around. Don’t get me wrong, we were thrilled to see Brazil win “but”… (how French of me, right?)
The interesting thing was that after the game my Dad told us that he didn’t think Brazil had a chance to win the World Cup this year and he also added that Neymar, however good he was, would not finish the tournament. My Dad found him too provocative and he was sure Neymar would either get red carded (because of his attitude), or a defender would hurt him… And this is what happened in the ¼ finals against Colombia.
The party went on all night in the streets of Sao Paulo (and the rest of Brazil for sure!). Sarah took us for a walk in the business district and we met up with more soccer fans from Colombia, Iran, Mexico, Holland… It was splendid! We got home late only to find Sarah’s husband, Edi, still partying with the neighbors. What a day, folks! WHAT A DAY!
Je crois que les photos parlent d’elles-memes! Une journée de folie a Sao Paulo ou mes
parents et moi avons assisté a la fete, a la Fan Fest justement! C’etait LE match que tout le monde attendait et NOUS Y ETIONS! Cela faisait des annees que j’en revais et je peux vous dire que je n’ai pas ete décu! Nous avons passé la journée a chanter, danser, discuter avec des fans de foot et des touristes des 4 coins du monde: beaucoup de sud americains (surtout des colombiens qui n’avaient pas participé a une Copa do Mundo depuis 1998), quelques europeens, asiatiques et australiens, mais surtout des milliers de Bresiliens prets a crier, pleurer, danser et surtout manifester leur joie quand Neymar marquera!
Nous étions prets egalement avec nos maillots du Bresil (edition 94!), nos peintures sur les joues, la perruque jaune et verte de maman, la casquette bresilienne de papa, et mon beret bleu! Que la fete commence! Sarah (la canadienne qui etait en échange chez nous en 98) et son bébé, Camillo, nous ont accompagnés a la Fan Fest et c’etait une experience incroyable! J’ai adoré les Mexicains et leur énergie sous leurs masques et sombreros! Et la musique des tambours brésiliens, et le dehanché des argentines… et les sourires partout, partout! Le
Colombians were everywhere!
Sarah and I with 3 friends from Colombia
mieux, c’etait de voir les regards d’enfants de mes parents savourant cette nouvelle expérience.
Evidemment le Bresil a gagné et tant mieux car on aurait tous été tres tristes si cela n’avait pas ete le cas. Mais oui, l’arbitre a quand meme bien faussé le match avec ce penalty imaginaire et ce but refusé injustement aux Croates. Tant pis, tout le monde le savait que la Croatie n’avait aucune chance de gagner, et nous étions a Sao Paulo pour faire la fete et applaudir Neymar et consorts. Vous entendez les sifflets et les maracas?!
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