SAO PAULO – Go to a sporting event in Brazil and you will be mesmerized by fanatic crowds, nonstop chanting and an incessant party atmosphere. Go to a sporting event in Brazil and you will also be shocked by outdated venues, widespread disorder and endless violence.
There’s nothing like being a sports fan in Brazil.
But it’s not easy being a sports fan in Brazil.
Brazilians are passionate about their soccer – and sports in general. Fans idolize their stars on the fields, courts and tracks. They’ll cheer loudly at any sporting event they’ll go to, be it a World Cup match, a Formula One race or a mixed martial arts fight. They’ll instill a party atmosphere whether they are in a $500 million stadium or at the neighborhood court for an amateur volleyball tournament.
And they do it despite challenges that fans in the United States or Europe are not used to enduring. There are no decent ticketing structures and no marked seats inside stadiums. Rather, there are outdated venues providing little comfort and an overall lack of safety inside and out.
Things are improving after the country was selected to host the World Cup, but sporting events in Brazil are still far from being well-organized. Fortunately, the problems are usually offset by boisterous crowds and vivid fans, with games filled with people waving flags, cheering with choreographed moves and chanting nonstop to the beat of drums and samba songs.
It’s an atmosphere that can easily impress.
American filmmaker Spike Lee will tell you that. He was at the Maracana Stadium for the Brazilian Cup final two weeks ago, when the country’s most popular soccer club, Flamengo, won the title.
“I can’t lie. Tonight’s match made our Super Bowls look like the Little League World Series,” he said on his Instagram account. “This place was crazy for the entire game. My ears are still ringing and it ended over (an) hour ago. I have never heard (a) crowd that loud in my life.”
F1 drivers will say the fan enthusiasm in Brazil is what makes it worth coming back to the country every year.
Drivers have been complaining about the lack of structure at the Interlagos track in Sao Paulo for a long time, saying it’s the worst among all venues they visit all year. But for just as long, they’ve also been saying how much they enjoy racing in front of the Brazilian fans.
“It’s one of the best atmospheres of the whole season,” Heikki Kovalainen of Finland said before this year’s season-ending race in November. “The fans are incredibly passionate. They’re very knowledgeable and they turn the whole weekend into a giant party in the stands. It’s pretty cool on Sunday when you’re on the grid and all the stands are bouncing. It really is a cool place to race.”
British driver Paul di Resta said “there are drums playing in the grandstands and a party mood all the time. It’s great to see and it definitely gives you a buzz.”
The fan atmosphere is similar for nearly every sport.