Are You Ready for Some Futebol?
The banner-waving, anthem-singing fans of Rio de Janeiro’s Flamengo club formed a billowing mass of ruby-and — black-clad humanity. They moved not only in reaction to the ebbs and flows on the field far below, but also to the samba beat pounded out by musicians in the midst of the grandstand mayhem around me and my friend Doug. The bands had not stopped playing, and fans had not stopped chanting, in the 18 minutes since the game began.
Fans at Morumbi Stadium in São Paulo for a match between São Paulo F.C. and Corinthians.Soccer, or futebol, runs nearly all year long in Brazil, a national drama on the field and beyond.
Then, on the field far below, a precision passer on the rival team Fluminense launched the ball straight for their top scorer. As nonchalantly as flipping a light switch, he scissor-kicked a strike past the keeper into the far left corner of the goal. Or as it is known locally:
On the other side of the stadium, the Fluminense fans — outfitted in green, grenadine and white — erupted, but they were so isolated, so far away, that they looked and sounded like television static with the volume turned way up. On our side, the samba ceased. The fans slumped — for about 10 seconds.
Then the Flamengo samba machine swung back into action. The fans started singing again, a love song to their team. Their banners waved like mainsails in a storm. Mourning would wait for later: Flamengo eventually lost 1-0. But in Brazil, telling fans to stop cheering because the opposing team scored would be like telling a D.J. to stop the party because someone danced badly.
In Brazil, soccer is not just a game, it’s a national drama. One of Brazil’s great 20th-century playwrights and novelists, Nelson Rodrigues, recognized that the sport trumped even his own craft in defining the nation. “Abroad, when you want to learn about a people, you examine their fiction,” he wrote. “In Brazil, football plays the role of fiction.”
You can find variations on that particular brand of drama across the Brazilian soccer scene, almost all year round, in Rio and São Paulo and at smaller stadiums in lesser-known cities.
Here’s when you probably won’t find it: during the World Cup, which Brazil will host from June 12 to July 13, 2014. It won’t be in the stands when, say, Cameroon plays Serbia, or when France squares off against the Uzbeks. The World Cup will be a good party, guaranteed — and the handful of games the Brazilian side plays will be all-out spectacles. (Good luck getting tickets for those matches.) But the best time to experience true Brazilian soccer — or, more accurately, futebol (foo-tchee-BOW) — will be outside the parameters of the Cup.
That said, it is not simple to plan a soccer trip to Brazil. I had an advantage as a Portuguese speaker who had lived in the country for two years. Others might find it more difficult. The complex league schedules are largely unavailable in English. You’ll have to find your way to the stadium, choosing between public transportation and sometimes pricey taxis. Even where to sit can be a consequential decision.
And you’ll always have to be ready for the unexpected: Engenhão, the very stadium where Doug and I watched the Flamengo-Fluminense game, was closed last month for structural repairs. And there have been other black eyes for the country as it ramps up to the Cup. At the end of last month, an American woman was abducted and gang-raped in the popular Rio district of Copacabana. Police had to use tear gas recently after fans clashed when tickets ran out for the inaugural match of the new World Cup stadium in Salvador. (Six people reportedly sustained minor injuries.) As is often the case with travel in developing countries, things can be less predictable and more chaotic than you may be used to at home.
But none of those should dissuade you from experiencing soccer in Brazil. The phrase “the beautiful game” did not originate in the country, but it accurately describes the fluid and frequently dazzling play you’ll see. After attending six games last fall, I concluded that Brazilians speak soccer fluently, while everyone else has an accent.
My guess is that many Americans (and other travelers) don’t explore the admittedly complicated world of Brazilian soccer because they think it’s too dangerous or, more likely, have no idea how. Here, then, is a guide on the whens, wheres and how-tos.
When to Go
The first thing you have to know about Brazilian soccer is that it is played nearly year-round. There’s no spring training or long, wait-till-next-year periods of inactivity. Between two consecutive league seasons and a handful of national and international tournaments, the biggest teams play virtually nonstop, except for about a month in late December and early January. The first few months of the year are dominated by state leagues: all 26 Brazilian states, as well as the Federal District in and around Brasília, have them. (Games are generally on Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays.) By May or June, the more exciting four-tiered national league starts. By the time the season ends in December, there’s a national champion.
But the action doesn’t end there. Top finishers in the national tournament earn berths in the next year’s Libertadores Cup and South American Cup, two regional tournaments that run concurrently with parts of the state and national seasons. There’s also the Brazil Cup, a separate national competition with a knockout tournament format. And occasionally, the national team (that is, the one that goes to the World Cup) will play a “friendly” match against visiting foreign squads. (This year, from June 15 to 30, Brazil hosts the Confederations Cup, stopping league play.)
但这项运动不会就此结束。全国联赛的前几名将赢得次年的解放者杯(Libertadores Cup)和南美俱乐部杯(South American Cup)的席位，这是两项与州联赛和全国赛季同时进行的地区性赛事。还有巴西杯(Brazil Cup)，一项独立的全国赛事，以淘汰赛形式进行。有时候，国家队（就是去参加世界杯的那支球队）还会与来访的别国球队打一场“友谊赛”。（今年，从6月15到30日，巴西将会主办联合会杯[Confederations Cup]，联赛将会停止）
The other good news is that you don’t always need to buy tickets in advance. There are exceptions: if it’s a game between two big teams, known as a clássico (more on that below), you should be safe and buy tickets beforehand at the stadium, club headquarters or other outlets; ask your taxi driver or hotel staff members. Buying online is sometimes possible but tricky: sites usually require a Brazilian ID number and domestic address.
How to Stay Safe
Rio is full of coddled experiences — tours of the favelas, private helicopter rides — and soccer is no exception. In hotel lobbies in the tourist-clogged Copacabana and Ipanema neighborhoods, travelers can pay 150 reais or so (about $75 at 2 reais to the dollar), take a bus or van to the stadium, and be herded by an English-speaking guide into the pricey reserved seats. It is the most expensive and probably the most boring way to see a match. It is also unnecessary.
Travel in Brazil is never entirely without risk, of course, but games are much safer than they used to be. Armed with some advance knowledge, common-sense precautions and a sense of adventure, it’s far more exciting to sit in the general-admission grandstand. In summary: arrive very early, don’t bring valuables, and sit on the edges of the grandstand, not in the middle of the mayhem.
Things have changed a lot since the 1980s, when fights between opposing fan groups were common, said Bernardo Buarque de Hollanda, a professor at the Fundação Getúlio Vargas who studies the social history of sport and specializes in the highly organized fan groups, or torcidas organizadas, that dominate the grandstands. “Instead of spontaneous violence, it was premeditated,” he said. By the 1990s stadiums began to separate fan bases for all games, although that sometimes just resulted in moving fights outside the stadium. Since then, a 2003 federal law made leagues and clubs legally responsible for fan safety, and was strengthened in 2010 to make the torcidas and their leaders criminally responsible for member actions within five kilometers of the stadium. State laws now prohibit alcohol sales (though those will be temporarily lifted for the World Cup).
杰图里斯瓦卡斯基金会(Fundação Getúlio Vargas)的教授贝纳尔多·布阿奎·德·霍兰达(Bernardo Buarque de Hollanda)说，在20世纪80年代，对阵双方球迷殴斗很普遍，从那时候到现在，事情已经改变了很多。他研究体育社会史，并且专注于对有高度组织性的球迷会的研究，即“torcidas organizadas”，也就是占领大看台的那个群体。“暴力并非是即兴突发的，而是事先蓄谋的，”他说。到20世纪90年代，球场开始为所有比赛都划分球迷区域，不过有时候这只是将斗殴转移到了球场之外。而在那之后，2003年的一项联邦法令使得各大联赛和俱乐部在法律上都要担负起球迷安全的责任，并且在2010年进一步加强力度，让球迷会及其领导者为会员在球场方圆5公里以内的行为担负刑事责任。如今的州法律则禁止售卖酒精物（不过在世界杯期间会暂时解禁）。
Mr. Buarque added that “there is a tendency toward building stadiums that guarantee the comfort and security of fans” — including chairs instead of concrete steps and more security personnel. Fans have complained that some of the newer stadiums are too civilized and seats too expensive, but their loss is your gain.
You’ll also want to decide on whether to participate in the street festivities before the game. At most of the games I attended, street vendors hawked dirt-cheap, ice-cold beer and meat on sticks. In most places, there was a significant police presence, which was mostly reassuring. Even at a Series B game I attended in Fortaleza, in the northeast, where rows of officers in riot gear standing guard were enough to startle me, there was no evidence of anything worse than beer-drinking teenagers.
One more thing: Brazilian men are not particularly known for their shyness around women, and given the male-dominated crowds at most matches, women (and, for that matter, parents and their children) may feel more comfortable in a calmer area, away from the grandstand. And you may be glad that your children don’t understand Portuguese: chants directed at referees and opposing players can get vulgar and often homophobic.
Where to Go
The obvious places to see games are Rio and São Paulo, for two reasons: first, they have multiple major teams — Flamengo, Fluminense, Vasco and Botafogo in Rio; Corinthians, São Paulo F.C. and Palmeiras in São Paulo, with several other less popular professional teams. In other words, there will always be a game.
看比赛最显而易见的地方就是里约和圣保罗，原因有两个：第一，它们有很多支强队——里约有弗拉门戈、弗卢米嫩塞、瓦斯科(Vasco)和博塔弗戈(Botafogo)；圣保罗有科林蒂安(Corinthians)、圣保罗(São Paulo F.C.)和帕尔梅拉斯(Palmeiras)，还有其他几支不那么有名的职业球队。换句话说，这里永远都会有比赛可看。
You also won’t run out of soccer-related things to do between games. In Rio, there’s the small museum at Maracanã, Brazil’s most famous soccer stadium. (The museum remains open during pre-Cup stadium renovations.) Elsewhere, the city’s beaches host informal games, known as peladas. One of the more regular and impressive ones is the Pelada de Siqueira Campos, on Copacabana beach just off the street of the same name, on Sundays at 10:30 a.m. It’s serious business, and looks utterly exhausting. And on both Copacabana and Ipanema beaches, you’ll find lots of impressive futevolei, a version of volleyball played soccer style, with no hand or arm contact.
在没有比赛的时候，你也不缺和足球有关的事情可做。在里约，在巴西最有名的足球场马拉卡纳(Maracanã)有一个小博物馆。（博物馆在世界杯前的球场翻新工程期间仍然开放）在其他地方，这座城市的海滩也会举办非正式的比赛，被称作” peladas”。其中一个比较定期举办并且引人注目的是”Pelada de Siqueira Campos”，就在科帕卡巴纳大街边上叫同一个名字的海滩上，每周日早上10点30分进行。这是很激烈的比赛，而且看起来非常耗体力。在科帕卡巴纳和伊帕内马两个海滩上，你都会找到很多“futevolei”比赛，这是一种像足球一样用脚踢的排球比赛，手和手臂都不能触球。
Probably the best place to supplement your soccer fix, though, is the Museum of Football, located within Pacaembu Stadium in São Paulo. The museum — where most exhibits, though not all, are translated into English and Spanish — provides historical perspective but, more important, goes pretty far in replicating the excitement in the stadiums. A samba beat follows you part of the way through the exhibits, and a raucous audio-visual display (dramatically located under the Pacaembu bleachers) is dedicated to the organized fan groups. “Everything in life changes, except for the team you choose to cheer for,” a quote reads. Particularly appealing are the videos in which Brazilian soccer writers recall the most memorable goals of their lives.
不过，最能为你的足球之旅增添色彩的地方，很可能就是位于圣保罗帕卡恩布体育场(Pacaembu Stadium)内的足球博物馆(Museum of Football)。这座博物馆当中虽不是全部，但大多数的展览都同时翻译成了英语和西班牙语，它提供了历史的视角，但更重要的是，它颇为着力地重现了球场内的激情。在展览的某些部分，一种桑巴音乐节奏会一直跟着你，还有一个喧闹的视听展览（颇为戏剧性地安排在了帕卡恩布的露天看台下面）是关于有组织球迷会的。“人生中的一切都会改变，唯独你选择为之欢呼的球队不变，”一句话是这么说的。特别吸引人的是一段视频，由巴西的足球记者们回忆他们人生中最难忘的进球。
São Paulo also has something not common elsewhere: bars dedicated to soccer. Bar São Cristovão, in the middle of the bustling Vila Madalena night-life district, is a must visit. The bar, with walls plastered with memorabilia, is a popular spot on game days, and its draft beers and snacks make for great game-time refreshment. It also sells historic jerseys of the major Brazilian clubs for 140 reais.
圣保罗还有一些在别的地方并不普遍的事物：为足球而设的酒吧。位于马达莱纳镇(Vila Madalena)喧闹夜生活区中心的圣基茨酒吧(Bar São Cristovão)，就是一个必去的地方。这家墙上贴满纪念留言的酒吧，在比赛日是很受欢迎的地方，它的生啤和小吃是极好的比赛伴侣。这里还有售价140雷亚尔的巴西大俱乐部经典球衣出售。
What to Watch
The Flamengo/Fluminense — or Fla/Flu — game I attended was what is called a clássico, a showdown between two historically great teams. Not surprisingly, emotions run higher than usual during such games, especially, as was the case there, when both teams are local. The circus outside Engenhão on the day we went was intense — beer was plentiful, crowds were thick and rowdy. It’s kind of like Carnival with far fewer women. That’s not for everyone, but those up to the challenge will enjoy the spectacle.
“A foreigner should try to see a clássico,” said Alexandre Nobeschi, the sports editor for Folha de S.Paulo, the country’s largest-circulation newspaper. “It’s there that you can see the true impact soccer has on the life of Brazilians.”
“外国人应该尝试去看一场国家德比，”该国发行量最大的报纸《圣保罗页报》(Folha de S.Paulo)的体育编辑亚历桑德雷·诺贝斯奇(Alexandre Nobeschi)说，“在那里你才能看到足球对于巴西人生活的真正影响。”
At the five non-clássico games I attended, the atmosphere was a tad more mellow, but probably not to a degree noticeable to a novice. At another Fluminense game versus Ponte Preta, a team from São Paulo state, I sat in a packed (but not sold-out) San Januário, a charmingly crumbling 17,000-capacity stadium that rocked with fervor as Flu came back against an early Ponte Preta lead. (Female travelers, take note: I observed that Fluminense attracted far more women to the grandstand than any other team I saw.)
在我去的五场非国家德比比赛中，气氛稍稍柔和一丁点儿，但很可能没有到一个初来乍到者能察觉出来的程度。在另一场弗卢米嫩塞对阵来自圣保罗州的庞特普雷塔队(Ponte Preta)的比赛中，我坐在拥挤（但没有坐满）的圣热拿利奥球场(San Januário)中，这是一个能容纳17000人的破旧却迷人的球场。当弗卢米嫩塞早早落后于庞特普雷塔，之后又扳平时，整个球场与激动的球迷一起摇晃。（女性游客请注意：我发现弗卢米嫩塞能吸引到大看台上的女人，比我看过的其他任何球队都多得多）
By far my favorite place to see soccer, though, was in Santos, a port city of 420,000 an hour (or three, depending on traffic) from São Paulo, where coffee has floated out of Brazil since the 19th century, and much more — soybeans, sugar, automobiles — floats out today.
Santos is a storied club — it has won eight national championships and was Pelé’s team from 1957 to 1974. On two World Cup teams, in 1962 and 1970, 8 of the 11 starting players played in Santos, and although that is unlikely ever to happen again (most top Brazilian players now make millions for European clubs), it is, at least for now, the squad of Neymar, the 21-year-old Instagram-using star who many consider the best player in the country.
The stadium in Santos is tiny and intimate, so the seats are very close to the action. (Cubs and Red Sox fans will recognize the appeal.) And pretty soon, Santos will be home to a brand-new museum dedicated to Pelé, in a renovated mansion known as the Casarão do Valongo. It’s scheduled to be open by the World Cup. But no need to rush — it will still be there when the World Cup ends and real Brazilian soccer starts up again.
桑托斯的球场很小很亲近，所以座位非常靠近比赛场地。（小熊队和红袜队的球迷会知道那种感觉）而不用多久，桑托斯就会有一个全新的贝利博物馆，那将会位于一个叫“Casarão do Valongo”的翻新大楼里。它定于世界杯前开幕，但也无需急着去——反正在世界杯结束和真正的巴西足球再次开始时，它仍然会在那里。