It’s no secret that Brazil is a football-obsessed nation. Along with carnival and barely-there bikinis, Brazil is known for producing some of the world’s best football players who seem to samba with the ball rather than kick it.
So it seems like only a natural progression that Brazil would be host to the next World Cup in 2014.
And this beaming national pride for football is evident in every aspect of Brazilian life. When I recently went down in SãoPaulo’s Pacaembu stadium just hours before the last game of the Campeonato Brasileiro championship, excitement could be felt in the air. Hoards of shirtless men gathered and chanted on the perimeters of the stadium guzzling down cans of beer. Fans were spilling out of bars, where they had their last few drops of alcohol before heading into the ground. Because the closest thing anyone can get to a drink in a Brazilian football stadium is alcohol-free beer.
The sale of alcohol has been banned in Brazilian football stadiums for years, and fans who try to sneak it into stadiums are banned too. It was implemented after over-excited and over-lubricated supporters would get violent over a game’s outcome. In fact, the ban was originally put in place to please FIFA.
But, in an ironic twist, they are now demanding that the rules be overturned for the World Cup. Why? Well, mostly because some of the main sponsors for the event are Budweiser, and the world’s largest brewer Anheuser-Busch InBev, which makes Stella Artois, Beck’s and the Brazilian beer Brahma – that and FIFA now says that alcohol doesn’t cause violent behaviour at World Cup games.
And all of this isn’t going over well with Brazilians. FIFA’s medaling in World Cup preparations has stirred up national pride, and some legislators, namely former striker turned Congressman, Romario, have been dragging their heels to prevent the rules being changed. But FIFA is pushing Brazil to make a decision and this week Brazilian legislators will be voting for or against the ban.
And as FIFA tells this legendary football nation the rules of the game for the World Cup, it can be expected that fans will be able to quench their thirst with an ice-cold Brahma come 2014. These already excited football fans at Pacaembu will be pushed into overdrive. Expect complete pandemonium.