Maybe I left Brazil too soon. I was wearing the same Brazil shirt that I had worn while watching their previous two knockout round matches. This time, though, I was back in the US watching the Brazil-Germany game from a bar in New York City, having just arrived earlier that morning after we flew out of Brazil the previous night. That’s why they were demolished by the mighty Germans in the semis – they were missing their good luck charm!
But seriously, I know better than to take credit for their performances. In fact, it seems almost fitting that the end of the Seleção’s World Cup run coincided with the end of my own World Cup venture in Brazil. As I sit here now a few days later reflecting on my trip and my experiences there, I’m still in awe of the opportunity I just had. I got the opportunity to see what it really means for soccer to be a religion. I got to be part of the World Cup festivities. I got to travel to Brazil and see the sites, and to experience the culture and food. And of course, I went to a World Cup stadium to take in a match live.
I experienced other facets of the World Cup experience in Brazil, too. Here are several others I want to share with you:
Millions of people from around the world traveled to Brazil for the World Cup, and many flew in just for the experience of being there without match tickets. When fans didn’t have tickets to the match, they gathered at the FIFA Fan Fests set up in the host cities.
I went to the Fan Fest in Rio de Janeiro, set up on the Copacabana beach, to watch a couple of games where it was packed with thousands of fans all watching on the big screen. Fans were adorned in the shirts and flags of their favored nations, even if they weren’t involved in the games taking place that day. It was definitely crazy and certainly provided a festive atmosphere. As most of the crowd were neutrals, though, it wasn’t necessarily the loudest atmosphere if you wanted to be among your own fans.
The Fan Fest space in Salvador was actually much smaller than in Rio as they took over the area next to the Barra Lighthouse. I went to the post-match party after Brazil defeated Colombia and it was a madhouse – absolutely packed and we had to slog through just to make our way to the main stage. A Brazilian singer was performing and everyone was in a party mood, dancing the night away.