Maracanã and Football Games in Rio
The connection between Brazil and football is really strong. The national arena, Maracanã, is famous around the world. Going to football games here is easy and fun, an extatic atmosphere compensates for perhaps some lack in quality. The growing commercialism in football has drained The Brazilian league of a lot of talent – almost all the best players are abroad. The national league starts in May and end in December. From January to April there are the prestigous State Championships to watch.
Getting to the Games in Maracanã
The easiest way to get to Maracanã is by subway or on organized tours. The subway take you all the way to the stadium. If it’s a night game or a bigger game, it could be a bit crowded. You buy the tickets indvance in front of the entrances. If there are no tickets left, you will have to try to get them from one of the hawkers lurking about. Tickets for arquibancada are more expensive, on the rafters and more fun, since you that is where the fans are. Ticket prices vary depending on the game, they usually start at around R$60.
Going on organized tours is a convenient and safe option. The prices are not bad – operators offer this service in most hostels and hotels. If you want to go to São Januário (the stadium of Vasco da Gama) or Engenhão (the stadium of Botafogo), we only recommend organized tour, since they are located in rough neighbourhoods and public transport options are only buses or the sketchy train. For your own safety, it is good not to wear any team colours. Yes, there are bad football fans in Brazil too.
The Different Teams
There are four big teams in Rio, most of them play all their bigger games at Maracanã, since their own arenas are too small or too bad. We will give a short description of all the teams below so you can choose the right team for you to support.
Flamengo: The biggest team in Brazil. It has a wide support all around Brazil. The colours are red and black. There is no real connection between the neighbourhood Flamengo and the team. A nickname for a Flamengo supporter is urubú (vulture in English). Most of the supporters come from the lower class, although many people from all social classes support the team. Flamengo had big success in the 1980’s, when they were lead by superstar Zico.
Botafogo: The black and white team has less supporters, but lots of tradition. During the 1960’s, they dominated Brazilian football and there were no less then 9 players from Botafogo in the World Cup Champion squad of 1962. Among them, arguable Brazil’s most talented player of all time: Garrincha. The Botafogo supporters are dedicated and you’ll find many writers and people from the cultural area on the rafters. Most supporters are over 60 years old.
Vasco da Gama: Their colors are also black and white. Vasco is traditionally the team of Portuguese immigrants. It’s the second largest club in Rio. The rivalry with Flamengo is big and derbys with them many times result in fighting in the streets. Their all-time best player was the striker Roberto Dinamite, who scored loads of goals during the 1970’s. Later, he went on working in the club’s organization. A nickname for a Vasco fan is bacalhau (English: cod), derived from the Portuguese tradition of eating dried cod.
Fluminense: Green, red and white, known as Tricolor, is the traditional club of the wealthier. Rivellino is one of the greatest Fluminense players of all time. Being supported by rich and powerful people, they are jokingly more famous for their performances in court rather than on the field. Reportedly, their skilled lawyers have wiggled them out of some relegations and other difficulties a few times. The charismatic striker Fred was the star the last few years.