Before the Game
Hi all i hope this entry sees you all in good spirits cause mine are soaring. This is because I have just experienced and survived the magic, raw passion and pure craziness of South American futbal (for all you aussies im talking about soccer). The spectacle and uncontrolled frenzied atmosphere that is created within the stadium is mindblowing, it felt like all my adrenlin was on speed.
So i should lay out the story in full because it is one for the ages. Currently in Rio it is finals time in the futbal, four teams vying for bragging rights over the ´City of God´, and the competiton is feroricious not just on the field but probably more in the streets. The more noise, flares and cracker bombs you can discharge, the bigger your banners and the harder you beat your drum is the way to silence the competing supporters.
This is not confined to the stadium, which is apparently the worlds largest futbal stadium in regards to the capacity of spectaors it can hold... before the seats went in it crammed in over 200,000 ppl but with seats just over a 100,000 which believe me is heart pumping enough!!!
The hostel we are staying at and it is the best hostel Stone of a Beach organised a big day trip for all the guests to watch the finals of the futbal! We arrived in convoy (altogether about 50 of us) outside the stadium which took a 2 hour mission to cover say 3-4km because of the frenzied choas in the streets! The electric atmosphere fuelled by thousands of people everywhere, crackers were going off, street meat was on offer in all directions, people were casually drinking Skool (the local beer) next to riot police who were each straddling 4-5 feet wooden battons.
Duggo in the thick of things
It was a sea of red and black, the home-side Flamenco was out in force. In Australia my aussie rules footy team are the Essendon Bombers who by pure coincident have the exact colours of Flamenco, so I was on their band wagon straight away and went to the game in colours! Lucky or more convient for me is that the Flamenco team has the largest support base in the whole of latin-america and we were seated in their section and not the opposition, Botafogo! All the boys were a little more conservative as we didnt know where we were sitting but as soon as it was confirmed they bought up on the goodies on offer, buying flamenco tops, bandanas, flags, flares you name it we got into the futball spirit! So as soon as my feet step onto the pavement i was swept up in the Flamenco excitement, i ran the streets chanting with the dire hard supporters, whirling my black and red t-shirt in the air it was amazing, so much passion and the game hadnt even started but i wasnt prepared for what was awaiting me inside the stadium.
Mark and Myself soaking up the atmosphere
Boom Boom Boom it was like thunder as we entered the stadium corridors, the chanting was ear blowing, it was wall to wall supporters with the odd pick pocket thrown as an element of surprise (duggo got his glasses swipe in the first 2 mins of entering). Then BANG, this massive fire cracker, bomb thingo went off and you should have see all the gringoes hit the floor as if it were armageddon! The local supporters were the complete opposite and began jumping around in the air like possessed demons, grabbing all the gringoes of the floor in their hysteria! I loved their enthusiasm absolutely awesome!! As we entered the stadium i got my first glimpse of the opposing supporters who all entered on the other side of the stadium before the flamenco cheer squads.
Flamenco Flag Squad
They actually had a separate route to get too and out of the arena to avoid rioting. They were going ballistic, flares a light, big flags everywhere they were quietly confident to say the least and according to my sources they were actually significantly a better futbal team than Flamenco but lack the support fire power that Flamenco had and WOW what a support squad they had. It wasnt until minutes before the kickoff that i actually realised in all the excitement that three quarters of the stadium was a sea of black and red, and at least half of them were hurling toilet rolls everywhere. The noise was deafening, i couldnt hear myself think.....
So you get the idea the atmosphere, the specticle was nothing I have ever experienced.
The pitch in or its GLORY
The actual game of futbal is rather boring to watch in comparsion to AFL but the supporters made the game ecstatic. In the first half Botafogo scored twice with some genious foot work and crafty play and to see grown men cry illustrated the passion each supporter held for its team. When the first goal was scored my section was silent while at the opposite end of the stadium pandamonium broke out, it felt like Botafogo supporters filled the entire stadium! After that moment all i wanted was for Flamenco to score just once so we could go spastic...
And they did, after the intermission the Botafogo goal keeper got red carded and sent off which lead to the first goal (a penalty) to Flamenco. Words cant describe the anarchy that broke out in my section it was out of control.
Before the first kick the place was pumping
Flares sprang up everywhere and rockets were shot onto the field one cruised the entire length of the pitch into the opposing supporters. The riot police came from everywhere to man their stations it was utterly insane. They beat down on any trouble makers (mainly the flare chuckers) and escorted many from the ground. But in the midst of all the commotion it was so exhilerating, jumping around with the old man who moments before was bawling his eyes out cause his side was 2 nil down. From that moment on we didnt sit down for the rest of the game, chanting and drumming never stopped and the dancing crowd was wired. We scored a second time and nearly won the match on several occasions in the end in was a 2-2 drawn with the deciding final next week.
Duggo the lady killer
I totally recommend all travbuddies and people that read this that they need to experience this futbal event when in latin america it is truly amazing. The hot tips though are watch your valuables closely, dont were thongs (flip flops) as the supporters wee everywhere and when you leave your not walking through 5 metre puddles of water but urine my friends and go BERSERK with the fans cause they like to see the passion.... peace