I’m an official Flamenguista, which was decided by fate more than anything else. During my first two months in Rio, I have accidentally worn red and black toghether several times when going out, and people have assumed and commented on me being a Flamengo fan. Additionally, my first opportunity to go to a game at the famous Maracanã stadium was for Flamengo against a team from Ecuador for the Copa Libertadores. The right choice was obvious.
So on that night I dressed in red and black again and headed out to the stadium with Ricardo, Paul, Allie, and several others. We took the metro to the Maracanã stop – that was easy to figure out. Walking out of the metro, thousands of other Flamengo fans accompanied us. The moment you walk out you have a view of the magnificent Maracanã from the pedestrian overpass. The lights from the stadium lit up the surrounding area. Although I had seen the stadium before during the day, I had never seen it at night like this. I felt so excited, and my heart was racing. I was finally going to see a soccer game, in Brazil, in Rio, in the Maracanã! They offer tours during the day to see this stadium, but I don’t know why anyone would take a tour over attending a game. To feel that energy, you have to be there, among the torcedores, fans.
On the way in, members from an official Flamengo fan club painted our faces for free. Then, we were officially ready!
Some things that surprised me about this newly renovated stadium:
- Soft drinks are sold by the can, which is then poured into a plastic cup with ice as opposed to the fountain drink machines I’m accustomed to seeing.
- The seating policy: sit wherever you want. No need to go to the seat marked on your ticket.
- The beer is nonalcoholic. Given Brazil’s soccer history and violence, seems like someone made a good call. Side note: the 2014 World Cup will be an exception (FIFA ordered), and the official beer sponsor, Budweiser (Anheuser-Busch), will be served. For fans, World Cup without beer isn’t a World Cup. For FIFA, it’s a profit loss. Brazil, however, did win the battle over providing 50% discounted tickets to the Brazilian elderly and students… Now if only I was one of those 300,000 lucky fans!
- As a student (with a 50% discount), the price of my ticket was less than $25 for this game. For that price you are probably in the nosebleed section for a Miami Dolphins’ game and you bought the tickets off StubHub for a not so popular game.
The game itself was a lot of fun! In my opinion, both teams played without much finesse in the first half, but the second half was a huge improvement. Without knowing any of the Flamengo songs and chants, I joined in and pretended to sing anyway. With so much energy and excitement, you couldn’t not join them! I could catch some of the main lyrics here and there, but I will definitely be more prepared and ready to sing for the next game.
One of my favorite sights was the giant flag that fans stretched above their head over an entire section! Fans waved their flags, screamed at the players and the refs, sang their rivalry songs, did the wave, and overall had a great time rooting for their team. Reminded me of being in the Swamp for a Gator game. Gator fans, we come pretty close to these Flamenguistas, but could learn a few things!
This victory and exciting experience full of passion and everything soccer related has solidified my decision. I will try my very best to be a dedicated fan, but it will never compare to these true Flamengo fans who have been fans since birth. I’m sure some would argue I don’t bleed black and red like us Gators bleed orange and blue, but in my opinion a fan is a fan no matter how small or large their contribution. I’m sure some of the other 40 million flamenguistas will teach me a thing or two while I’m here.
Until next time, beijos.