Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Maracanã and Flamengoooooolllll!!

A few weeks back we saw Flamengo take on Botafogo in the largest futebol stadium in South America, the Maracanã. Rio´s most popular teams include Flamengo, Botafogo, Fluminese, and Vasco. Matches between local futebol teams were put on hold after the World Cup but after the final they resumed and a big group from school got tickets. We ended up getting there about an hour and a half before the game started and the stadium was relatively empty. We sat near the middle of the field although it became apparent as the game started that the real fun was on either side of the stadium, which were where the torcedors for Flamengo and Botafogo were, respectively. I chose to cheer for Flamengo since that was where I lived and we were surrounded by a fair amount of Flamengo fans too. The fans from each side had huge banners that were about 20 seats long and hung over the railing proclaiming the name of their fan club. They also waved gigantic flags throughout the game, some with team colors and others with caricatures of players. When the game was about to start each side lit up about 20 or so flares and waved them around. I have no idea how this isn't a fire hazard but Fogo had white ones and Flamengo red. Each side started up chants at various times throughout the game although it was hard to make out what exactly they were saying. I'm pretty sure Flamengo had the majority of a brass section too, as we could make out a few horns playing When the Saints Come Marching In during the game.

The game was fast paced and there were plenty of moments where we thought we were about to score or were worried Fogo would. The man sitting behind us kept exclaiming a certain phrase when the opponent was about to score so we learned a useful insult. Luckily the goalie for Flamengo was blocking all of Fogo´s shots. We took a walk around the stadium after the first half to drink in the industrial concrete grandness that is Maracanã. It´s not necessarily pretty and really just utilitarian. It´s oval shaped, open air, and huge. On our stroll we ran into a man wearing a white robe, iridescent wig, angel wings, halo, and Flamengo scarf (thanks to Boris for the pic). The Flamengo angel was clearly good luck because in the second half Flamengo scored and half the stadium was on its feet cheering for a good 5 minutes or so and more red flares were lit. The Botafogo fans were silent and only a few more chants from their side started. The game ended 1-0 and the Flamengo fans left happy.

Interestingly, the food served at futebol games is the same as that served at an American baseball game, namely hot dogs, peanuts and soda. The hot dogs come in individual pre packaged servings with a packet of mustard, ketchup, and a little baggy of fried potato sticks to put on the dog. Soda consists of Coke, Coke Zero, some type of lemon-lime soda and of course guaraná. Wikipedia tells me Guaraná Antartica "... is the second best-selling soft drink brand in Brazil, behind only Coca-Cola, and absolute leader in its segment. Currently, it is one of the 15 best-selling soft drink brands in the world." It's fizzy and vaguely reminiscent of ginger ale except with a stronger, fruitier flavor. Guaraná is an Amazonian berry that is in all types of foods from soft drinks and juice to jelly. It has been eaten by indigenous peoples forever and I believe has a fair amount of caffeine in it too.

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