World Cup 2014 – Penalties on the beach



Phew! I’ve finally managed to find time to write a new post. I would like to post more often, but things have been ridiculously busy over the last month – I’ve been working 7 days a week with a mixture of food tours and writing assignments. So far my new career as freelance writer and food guide is going well and although I’m looking forward to having a little break, it feels good to be this busy.

Eat Rio Food Tours have been going really well and I am now up to number 38 in TripAdvisor’s list of Activities in Rio – take a look at some of the lovely things people have been saying.

Anyway, enough random talk, let’s get back to the football shall we? Last Saturday Brazil took on Chile in their first knock-out game and I decided to go out on assignment to capture the drama of the occasion (of course I had no idea quite how dramatic things would be). In the photo above you can see that the bar near Eat Rio HQ was taking things very seriously.

I hopped on the metro and was almost immediately absorbed into a group of Brazilians on their way to the big screens on Copacabana beach:


My new football friends.


From what I’ve seen, the metro system has been dealing quite well with the all these extra visitors. We made it to our stop in Copacabana and as the hordes of Brazil fans were filing out of the station, we passed a large group of Uruguay fans waiting on the platform below. Here’s what happened:


 It was great to see two sets of fans enjoying their rivalry in the right spirit – the jeers and fingers were always accompanied by laughs and cheeky grins. 


As we walked from the metro to the beach, the sense of anticipation was palpable. The sea of yellow-clad Brazil fans was bolstered by more yellow from Colombian supporters. The merchandise vendors looked to be doing good business.


Flags were going for around R$15.


After my brush with the law last year, I’m not a huge fan of the Brazilian police, but I haven’t seen any heavy-handed behaviour so far and one group were kind enough to pose for a photo (though not interested in smiling apparently):


Smile please! No? Oh, OK then…


When we got to the FIFA Fanzone, the gates had been shut, so we headed to the alternative screen nearby which doesn’t have any entrance restrictions. Huge numbers of people had settled in to watch the game teams fight it out. After 90 minutes the score was 1-1, so the game went into extra time.


The beach was packed with vast numbers of nervous fans, as Brazil and Chile fought out a 1-1 draw over 90 minutes.


During breaks in the action, I wandered through the crowds to see what people were up to. Of course there was some frustration that the Brazil team weren’t dominating the match, but it was clear that people weren’t going to let that stop them having fun.




Colombians and Brazilians enjoying the game together.


As the 30 minutes of extra time got under way, things got tenser and tenser. Without any further score, we faced the ordeal of penalties. Ever wondered what it’s like to watch Brazil in a World Cup penalty shoot-out, surrounded by tens of thousands of Brazil supporters? It goes something like this:


 First David Luiz scores, then a Chilean player, Pinilla, misses. Cue scenes of elation. 


And so we came to the moment of truth:



After so many tense moments, you could feel the relief. It was a lovely moment, though I suspect many Brazilians didn’t enjoy the experience as much as I had.

And as we look ahead to today’s match with Colombia, let’s take a moment to consider those people who won’t be able to watch the game. São Paulo based travel writer/journalist Kevin Raub was stuck on a plane during the last Brazil game, so had to rely on his wife’s commentary via text message. He tweeted the final moments of the penalty shoot-out:




The day ended with victories for Brazil and Colombia, who will meet today. Mrs Eat Rio is feeling enormously nervous about the game, but I suspect Brazil will edge through to the semifinal. I’m still holding out for an Argentina vs Brazil final – imagina!


Today’s slice of tension will come courtesy of Brazil and Colombia. May the best team win!


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