Made perfect sense to me: Why not cap my first day in Brazil by watching the beautiful game in a place where the sport is a religion? Here in the land of Pele and Ronaldo, futbol is everything. And with the World Cup coming back here next year, there’s even more attention on the game. Stadium construction projects are under way all across the country.
I chose to see a match between two Sao Paulo-area teams, Santos and Paulista. It was held at ancient Pacaembu Stadium in central Sao Paulo. The stadium’s on its last legs as the home teams will be the beneficiaries of that new stadium construction.
I had no clue what the drill was as I approached the stadium. I found what looked to be a ticket-buying line one hour before game time and plunked down some cash. I admitted being Norte-Americano and they promptly produced a ticket safe enough and non-threatening enough for a gringo like me. The price was about $30.
After a thorough pat-down from security, I managed to find a seat in a crowd covered in baby blue and white, the colors of Santos. It was fun soaking up the atmosphere as fans sang and chanted.
Then it really became a soaking as I experienced my second monsoon-like downpour of the day, the kind of rain Sao Paulo is famous for. Good thing I’d brought my poncho!
Nobody went running for cover, however. Many didn’t even bother with ponchos, seeing as the temperature was in the mid-70s.
The match itself went from being a bit of a soggy, scoreless snooze in the first half to a very ugly 3-1 loss for the home team by the end. The winning team even managed two short-handed goals. It was comical at times when players went flying through the mud and the ball came to unexpected stops when it hit pools of rainwater.
In the end a great experience, a great first taste of Brazil.
Up tomorrow: a local shows me some of the sights. Until then, some random photos from the day.