Then in 1994 the Brazilian team with players such as, Dunga, Romario, Bebeto, and Cafu clinched the countries fourth World Cup. In 2002 with players like Ronaldo, Rivaldo, and Ronaldinho, (the three R’s) they won their unprecedented fifth World Cup. So, as you can imagine, expectations are high for those playing on the Brazilian national team. (thanks again wikipedia)
Now, back to current day and my trip to the Goiania’s Estadio Serra Dourada Stadium which is an important venue in the city. Inaugurated in 1975 with a capacity of 45,000, it is home to all the important games of the region and the upcoming rematch between Brazil,s national team and the Netherlands (remember they eliminated Brazil in the 2010 World Cup) We have driven by the stadium earlier in my visit and it definitely is not post card material or kept at a level that invites people to attend. I understand there are current plans for renovating the stadium as it does serve its purpose and could use a spruce up. After a pre game lunch at Kabana's with Yasmin (one of my futebol game guides) and a couple of friends (whom like Luiz, are not attending the game). We head over to Luiz’s brothers house to meet up with my second futebol game guide “Paulo Vitor”. Dressed in neutral colors when I arrive to their home, his nephew hands me a green jersey to wear in support of the Goias team. I am not much of a jump on the band wagon guy traditionally, but decide it must be part of the experience and I am going for the experience. We head out all decked in green and as we are descending in the elevator, it stops on the 7th floor where there is a kid (around 12 or 13 years old) waiting for the elevator wearing red and black. (other team) He opens the door and upon seeing the three of us wearing all green, decides to wait for the next elevator. After a little assurance from us that it is OK, he changes his mind and gets into the elevator. The elevator stops a couple floors later and the kid gets off. As he leaves he informs us that we are spending our time in vain (of course in Portuguese so I am relying on translation from my futebol guides). We chuckle and continue on the elevator to the parking level. We laugh a bit about his hesitance to ride the elevator with us as we head to the car.
We arrive at the stadium and it is a little chaotic as there is no one directing traffic like in the United States. People are randomly driving through the lot, looking for a "good" place to park. Fortunately since we have arrived early, the parking lot is pretty empty and it is easy to find a spot. We walk up the hill to the stadium. It's pretty much like any stadium event I have been to, with people herded like cattle to the right gate. They are assisted by their ticket and the other fans searching for their way. We enter through the ticket gate and Paulo Vitor heads to the security guard and gets frisked. I follow hesitantly as I am not sure they need to frisk everyone or did they motion for him to come there? After realizing that this procedure is for everyone and that is where Yasmin has headed, I position myself for my turn. While being frisked I am not aware the guard wants me to lift up my shirt showing my belt. Fortunately, Paulo Vitor is not far away and informs them I am American and that I do not speak Portuguese . We all have a little chuckle - security gaurd included. We get inside the stadium and my guides are discussing where to seat (it is open seating). You see, there is a "family" section and a "rowdy" section. I think they usually sit in the "rowdy" section but they think it may be "better for photos" in the other section (or maybe they are thinking I am old and concerned with me enjoying myself in the rowdy section????). After the short discussion we find a seat in the "family" section. We are sitting there no longer then 10 minutes when the decision is made to move. I can tell they would rather be on the other side of the field. I also assure them that I am fine with this move and am here for the experience so bring it on! When we first arrive in the "rowdy" section it is not much different then where we were but soon the stands began to fill in and it gets louder. In our section they hand out (not environmentally friendly) plastic bags and everyone begins to blow them up. Once inflated they rub them to make noise to compliment their cheers and clapping. Several hours before the game, thousands of fans have gathered a distance from the stadium. Led by drums and flag carrying fanatics they parade through the streets to the stadium. Chanting and making as much noise as they can celebrating their predicted victory. They begin their grand entrance into the stadium, the crowd begins to chant with them in unison as they make their way to their seats(which they won't use much) in the "rowdy" section. Taking into consideration that this parade is occurring for both teams on the different ends of the stadium at aproximately the same time. It is extremely loud as everyone is jumping around and shouting their teams chants. Truly an experience to be in the middles of. The “futebol” game begins and the noise and chanting gets louder. At one point, although I am standing there watching, I am literally bouncing up and down. The stands themselves are moving from the ecstatic crowd jumping around. At this point I appreciate that my guides have prior warned me of this possible situation, but cannot keep from silently hoping the city engineers have checked the structural integrity of the stadium recently. The game is exciting, but the green team Goias is struggling. The apposing team scores the first goal and their crowd goes bananas. I think to myself "I hope Goias scores as I would like the experience of being in the crowd when that happens". The first half ends with a1-0 score and I am a little disappointed - no green score. After half time the military guards with their dogs emerge around the edge of the field, but the crowd has mellowed. It continue to be mellow until about midway through the second half when the Athletico player gets a red card and is thrown out of the game. That ends up being the only excitement as the game time ticks down and people begin to leave. During half time we have moved down a bit to better position ourselves for our escape and toward the end of the game we head for the door. As we are walking outside the stadium, the crowd gets loud and we find out Goias has scored and now it is 1-1. I am a little disappointed as all game long I wanted to be in the middle of the eruption of the crowd during a score. The fact that half the crown has left at this point eases my disappointment quickly. We briefly discuss returning for the end of the game but Paulo Vitor informs us that this score is of little consequence. That in order for Goias to win the championship they need to beat the Athleticos and not tie them. There will be no penalty kick final, so we continue to the car. As we walk are treated to a wonderful sunset. I thank Paulo Vitor and Yasmin for being my guides for this experience, I had a wonderful time. I cannot wait to attend my next “futebol” game.I can now see why Brazilians have a passion for the support and how exciting it can be.
(Go to "A day in the Country")