I am not a football fan. At all. The closest I’ve ever got to being interested in football was watching Alex play on Sunday mornings, but now I much prefer staying in bed till he gets home at noon 😉
Alex, on the other hand, is football crazy. He teaches it every day in his job, he plays football every week, he even collects football stickers like the big kid he really is. So going to Brazil during the World Cup was completely his idea. Not mine. While he was looking forward to the World Cup like it was the most exciting thing in his life to ever happen, I was just looking forward to relaxing on the beach sipping a Caipirinha.
But with our friend Matt coming along for the trip too, I was completely outnumbered. As soon as the plane touched down in Rio, all I heard was football this and football that. I desperately needed a girl with me!
Football fans, I know you like/love/go mad over it, but for a girl who isn’t a football fan in the slightest, it was an awful lot for me to endure when I was in one of the greatest cities in the world and just wanted to see the sights! But, while I might have got completely fed up with football after a couple of days, the atmosphere was something that even I couldn’t help getting caught up in.
People were everywhere – singing and dancing as they walked down the street, chanting their country’s football song; spilling out of restaurants, cafes and bars, and anywhere they could find a TV. When the FIFA Fan Fest on Copacabana Beach was too full of excited football fans, people took to lining the streets and sitting on the side of the road, setting up camp along the fence and watching the big screen from the outside.
Decorations lined the streets with bunting and flags, all bright green and yellow, the colours of Brazil, which made you feel like part of the celebration no matter where you were from in the world. I decided to join in with the local festivities and got myself a Brazil shirt because clearly it was pointless getting an England shirt! 😉
We spotted people playing football anywhere they could from the beaches to the favelas and even in the mountains on the Inca Trail in Peru! Alex has a knack of bringing people together, whether they all speak the same language or not, and I have to admit (very grudgingly!) that football was the perfect way to do it.
We were lucky enough to get tickets to see Spain v Chile at the Maracana Stadium and being there in the huge crowd of people all cheering and singing for their country, it was hard not to get caught up in the euphoric atmosphere.
The FIFA Fan Fest on Copacabana Beach also had a brilliant atmosphere where watching a match on the huge screen with the sound of the commentators blaring out and the feel of the sand between your toes made it all the more exciting (and, yey, I found a girl!!).
There were fans from every possible nation you could imagine, brightening up the streets with flags and shirts of all different colours, all there just to have a good time and soak up the atmosphere, whether they had tickets to a game or not. Alex took it upon himself to try to get a photo with a fan from every country and he managed to get the majority of the countries in the group stages from the extremely popular Argentina to the slightly more obscure Iran.
And, while the boys were having fun, at least I got my wish of sitting on the beach with a Caipirinha in hand 🙂