Today's post comes from young Aussie travellers Wise Monkeys Abroad who are in Brazil for the World Cup. On the eve of the Socceroos second game against Netherlands, the Wise Monkeys Abroad give us an insight as to what it was like to be at the first Socceroos game and what it's like to be caught up in Brazilian World Cup fever.
The World Cup comes once every four years and so the opportunity for us to go is not whenever we feel like it. Back in 2010, when the World Cup was in South Africa, we said casually “In 2014, we should go to Brazil!” and then literally forgot all about it. Then in the second half of 2013, Australia qualified. The decision to go was a no-brainer!
What is the most popular sport in Brazil? Football, of course! Which made for a great excuse to go to Brazil for the World Cup.
The nation is so passionate about playing host and certainly showing their support for their team. Everywhere we look, there is yellow and green: whether it be streamers, balloons, clothes on mannequins… you name it, we’ve seen it! We’ve even seen dogs dressed in the Brazilian football jersey.
Actually, it is almost a little confusing for us because we as Australians know that yellow and green are our sporting colours. But that might have worked in our favour because there is automatic camaraderie between a Brazilian and an Australian - there is no hostility. We quite often are getting mistaken for Brazilian supporters. Well, to be fair, there is no hostility at all! Everyone is in good spirits and here just to have a good time and see their team win!
The atmosphere is electric; there is so much excitement in the air on game day and at the games, it’s rather overwhelming. There’s cheering, chanting and partying all-round! The country’s supporters all donning their colours to barrack for their team. And if its not your country playing, the chances of watching the game is extremely high because it’s footy fever in all the host cities. And cheers go up regardless of who scores, it’s all because of the love of the game.
For all those games, where people don’t have tickets or are played in another city, there are FIFA Fan Fest venues in every host city so supporters can get together and enjoy the games on big screen with entertainment during breaks and between games. There is no such thing as too much football during World Cup.
Now to the actual game of football itself, Australia is not really highly-regarded in the sport. In fact, we are ranked lowest of the qualifying teams. Everyone wrote us off, media and supporters alike. We are “pitied” (but not in a patronising way, more in a sincere way) by the other supporters: a few supporters kind of nod with a look of sympathy when we tell them who we are here for, or they apologise in advance while one Argentinian supporter offered that we were at least great at rugby and cricket as consolation.
But the word on the street is, the Socceroos gained a lot of respect from Chileans after their performance against Chile. When Chile were two goals up after 20 minutes, all hoped looked lost until the Aussie lads came together and put on a stellar performance. The way some saw it was that we managed to not only score but also maintained composure to defend and attack. It was described by a Brazilian that “we didn’t lose the plot”. Disappointingly we lost 3 to 1 but during the game, we could tell the Chile supporters were shaken up a little by how the Socceroos were playing. There were times when the Socceroos looked competitive that there would be silence from the Chile supporters. And it really was only that last goal for them that made them truly celebrate because it really wasn’t in the bag until that point!
Following the Socceroos around from Cuiaba to Porto Alegre to Curitiba, it is incredible to see there are so many other Australians doing the same thing. At times, it doesn’t even feel like we are out of Australia. But one thing makes it noticeably different, here in Brazil, Australians can call the sport what it is better known as…. football, not soccer!
Didn't make it to Brazil for the World Cup? Neither did Dan. But he did find a great spot to watch the game in Dubai:
Wise Monkeys Abroad have an awesome blog here, can be found on Twitter here, and Facebook here. Make sure you check out their website (http://wisemonkeysabroad.com), follow and have a chat with these guys who are travelling the world and doing what they love whenever they can.