Sunday, August 11, 2013

Speaking of pigs...time for a Palmeiras game! - São Paulo

Cool old photo of stadium. It looks just the same now. Pacaembu, built 1940.

Yesterday I went to my third-ever Palmeiras game. You'd think I cheered for that team, no? I admit that I have become sympathetic to it though personally I don't think you can call someone a fan of a team if they cannot name more than one player on it. Valdivia. And I've got nothing else. Also cheering for a team whose official mascot is a parrot or something green and feathery while the unofficial one is a pig given their fans, is out of my usual system of choosing teams. 1. Who has a cool mascot and 2. who has cool jerseys. Hence the Oakland Raiders. But that's another story.

I try to keep neutral as much as possible, and pretty much just know the color of the jersey. Or not. Teams need to stop with this whole home jersey/away jersey thing. Palmeiras is the green team but they wore white yesterday. The other team wore blue-- but wasn't Palmeiras the home team with the right to wear home colors? Very confusing. I wore white so it all worked out (I don't own a Palmeiras jersey. True story.)

Fashion aside, yesterday was fun though probably closer to reality than past games. As in closer to the crazy football matches you see in the movies. We were again seated in the Arquibancada (bleachers) which are for the common man.  Not the bleachers for the "organized fans" such as the Mancha Verde (covered in my first blog on Palmeiras) but the regular ones. We were sitting in the orange bleachers which were not the favorite seats of my husband but a friend mistakenly bought there so we "followed" her. We had invited two more families who had never seen a soccer game live before and who had small kids. The last game we had gone to there had more than enough room to spread out and the views from the bleachers are fine.  US$20 for one ticket, and $10 for the other since we have a certain credit card with a discount. Kids under 12 are free.

We ran into the first couple at the line to get in. They were dressed so nicely. They looked very gringo. They seemed to be okay with the huge line and the number of people (I had already begun to suspect that the place was going to be packed). We went through the usual body searches and hassle at the gate (there was only one machine that would take the card which was our ticket). We got briefly separated from the kids but a ticket taker had them corralled in a corner. We then ran into the second couple at the top of the bleachers who said her husband was upset with the number of people and location of seats. There was not much I could do. My husband pulled me down the steps as the game was beginning. We had to pick up our six-year olds to get down the stairs and find a space in the bleachers--a few people kindly moved over for us when they saw us with kids.

This is the irony of the bleacher seats. It's packed. It's rowdy. But it's not mean. Perhaps it is the feeling that only true fans would pile up like gerbils for a diagonal view of the field? So if we are there, we are true fans too so let's all just get along. At one point in the game, the father next to us with a five year old kid offered my kids popcorn from the container they had been eyeballing for a while. It is a nice group.

The view from orange. Dudes in white hats below are military police.

Until you actually listen to the yelled comments. Yep, again the bad calls resulted in the referee being told to um....suck something. The opposing players and anyone who didn't perform up to par on "our" team were all named "filhodaputa". The first half was painful. Palmeiras heard quite a lot of feedback, especially after opposing team Parana made the first goal.

During half time, we all sat down (after standing the whole first half) and relaxed. The kids inhaled US$3 hot dogs. And the neighbor's popcorn. Then half time was over. The second half was fantastic--first one goal then another for Palmeiras and the crowd went wild. One of my sons is not very interested in football and had to be convinced to stand up and cheer for the goals, the other laughed and smiled and sang with the rest of the stadium. My favorite songs all have to do with pigs, and when it was clear that Palmeiras would win there was a giant group call for "Festa no Chiqueiro!" (Party in the Pigpen!) It was a great game. And a nice sunset.

We ended up staying until the whistle. The crowd outside the stadium was pretty peaceful, everyone just trying to make their way home. Would it have been rougher if Palmeiras had lost or if it had been one of the big games? Yes. The opposing team had only about 50 fans there, in a separate section, and could only leave the stadium when escorted by the military police. Things are different here.

As we walked to our car down a quiet street (with about 40 other fans), suddenly we heard a series of gunshots. It is not a sound that I have ever heard close up--it was less than a block away. And then several men running, fortunately not in our direction, and the policemen, guns drawn, in hot pursuit. We waited a bit, standing stock still then continued to our car. There on the corner was the biggest policeman (that guy must have been 6'5" and spend his free time benching small cars) standing guard over one of the bad guys, cross-legged and handcuffed on the ground.

So we got in our bulletproof car and drove home. Palmeiras 2x1. Military police 1-0. 

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