6am, Sunday 16th December 2012
I am awoken by a volley of explosions which, despite my state of half-consciousness, give the impression that some armament has been detonated somewhere in the close vicinity of our apartment. To be awoken at such an ungodly time on a Sunday morning is rarely pleasant, especially when you appreciate shut-eye as much as I do, but to be disturbed in such a manner is even more distressing.
However, after stirring back into the real world much quicker than I would normally appreciate, my initial shock soon became reluctant acknowledgement, for the bombardments had begun sporadically the previous day and crescendoed throughout the night and the early hours of the following morning before ceasing at around 2am. Evidently the early morning blast was the sign that the ceasefire had been broken. By whom it was not known.
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After seven years of working with refugees in the UK, it was always an ambition of mine to go and ‘work in a field’. As such, I had anticipated, and sometimes still do, that one day I would awake to commotion like the above in some war zone in the Middle East or Africa. However, on Sunday 16th December I was in no war-zone, I was in São Paulo, Brazil – although with 4000 murders in 2012 (of whom 100 were police) I guess it could be argued otherwise.
Not all games are like this in Brazil.
After returning from Buenos Aires last weekend I spent all of Sunday moping around the house watching football. And boy was I treated, first with Spain v Italy and then Ireland v Croatia.
“And”, I thought, “there’ll probably be a Brasileiro game on afterwards as well. Get in!”
But, as I watched Gremio v Corinthians I realised that despite the modicum of interest that I have for Corinthians I really didn’t care that much. And the game really did drag. Continue Reading
At one point during my Palmeiras & Corinthians dilemma I considered making life easier for myself by ditching both of them and following one of São Paulo’s other teams instead. To fill you in on why I didn’t (kind of) here’s the lowdown on what else São Paulo had to offer this intrepid football explorer.
São Paulo FC
I have to be honest and admit that I never really considered opting for São Paulo FC. Firstly, they have, by Brazilian standards, a pretty boring name and their kit isn’t particularly inspiring either. Secondly, whilst they are one of Brazil’s most successful teams and play in one of the country’s biggest stadiums, it’s bloody miles from where I live and frankly it’s a pain in the arse to get to. God, I sound shallow.
Morumbi, when I went to see Corinthians play there in 2008.
My impression of São Paulo was not helped further by the palava I experienced when I tried to go and see them play against Portuguesa during the São Paulo state championship*. First, it took us nearly two hours to get there then when we finally arrived there were huge queues to buy tickets – queues that did not move beyond kick-off. We eventually gave up 15 minutes into the game.
The most frustrating thing about the whole episode was that they play in a stadium that has a capacity of over 65,000. The attendance that day? 16,883.
Rubbish. Continue Reading
Eddie Thompson, the late chairman of Dundee United, was once famously quoted as saying, “You can change your wife, your house, your car, but you can never change your team”. I generally agree although unfortunately it means I’m destined for a life of perennial underwhelming – I support Gillingham.
However, whilst there may only be one team you’ll ever truly support, I think it’s also fairly normal to follow or have an affection for others. Even Eddie Thompson did, he was apparently a Motherwell fan before he became involved with Dundee United.
In my case I have a soft spot for my home town team of Sutton United. They were the first team that my father took me to watch when I was a kid and just six months into my football supporting career we saw them beat Coventry City 2-1. To this day they’re still the last non-league club to defeat a team from the top division in the FA Cup.
And then there’s Brazil. Do I have a team? Yes, I have a team.
Kind of. Continue Reading
So Mocidade – the team I posted a video of and who are based one road from I live – won the Carnaval in São Paulo. However, as with most things in Brazil this did not pass without incident. Yesterday, at the ceremony to announce the results a riot broke out when fans of the Gavioes (the Samba school of the Corinthians football team) took a dislike to being marked down for one of the categories. Have a look.
Now I don’t know about you but this doesn’t really seem to be in the spirit of Carnaval? It’s also quite ironic that a group of football fans, notorious for their violence, get so worked up about what is essentially a dancing competition. Needless to say it probably also doesn’t make sense to have said Samba schools represented by football teams in the first place, especially ones that hate each other. Or to have them all crammed together for the announcement of the results. Anyway, that’s just my opinion.
However, one positive outcome out of all this is that my sister-in-law and I are now even. She visited us in London during the riots so both of us have now seen the worst of the yoof of our respective countries.
Anyway, enough for the excitement of Carnaval. I’m off to the beach for a good rest. Life is tough here.