Sao Paulo, Brazil – 26 January 2010
A lesson in the local language in Sao Paulo (which is both a region as well as a city): a person from the state of Sao Paulo is called a Paulista, from the city of Sao Paulo – a Paulistano, and if you support Sao Paulo Futebol Club, you are a Sao Paulino. And it was a friend who is all three who eloquently said that in Brazil, “Everybody’s life is touched by football.”
To understand Why Sport Matters in this country, one has to get to know the football culture. To say that Brazil is football crazy is an understatement. In Sao Paulo, the business capital of Brazil and a huge sprawling metropolis approaching 20 million people, there are many players and teams to support. The big football clubs of Sao Paulo are Corinthians, Palmeiras, Sao Paulo FC, and Santos (located on the coast about 80 km from the SP city). Santos is the club made famous by football legend Pele (who is regularly still in the news and is turning 70 this year). Corinthians — the club with the biggest fan base — has made the news recently by bringing back two big stars to Brazilian football, Ronaldo and Roberto Carlos.
Club football in Brazil has two main types of league competitions. From May-November, there is the national league organised by the CBF (national confederation). January-May is the “state” league, where teams play for the regional championship, and are organized by the state federations. These regional championships are quite important in Brazil, especially in Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro where there are many big clubs and the strongest rivalries. Sao Paulo’s FPF (Federação Paulista de Futebol) is one of the more important organisations in Brazilian football, and Why Sport Matters spent one day at the FPF offices in Sao Paulo to interview its president — Marco Polo Del Nero.
To actually take in some of the action, Why Sport Matters went to the Morumbi Stadium to see Sao Paulo FC win 3-0 against Rio Claro in the summer rains of Brazil. Thanks to Eduardo who works in International Relations for SPFC for inviting us to the match! The Morumbi has been selected as the Sao Paulo venue for the FIFA World Cup in 2014, and the possible site of the opening match. Check out this video we shot just outside the stadium (before the rain started!). Why Sport Matters also visited the newly established office of the local organising committee for the World Cup, where we saw the plans to refurbish and upgrade the stadium. Our friends Andre Megale and Rodrigo Garcia are already hard at work on it!
Our time in Sao Paulo coincided with the annual Copa São Paulo de Futebol Junior 2010, organized by the FPF. This tournament is held every January in Sao Paulo, and is widely recognized as the biggest (and most important) youth football tournament in the world. Though based in Sao Paulo, the tournament is open to teams from all over Brazil, and an incredible 92 teams competed in this year’s tournament. Many of the future Brazilian football superstars are identified and showcased in this highly competitive under-18 tournament. All of the matches except for the final are played outside the actual city of Sao Paulo, in order to give the smaller regional towns the opportunty to organise these important matches. The final however is always played in the city’s municipal stadium, the Pacaembu. This year’s exciting final saw Sao Paulo FC edge Santos in penalty kicks in front of over 20,000 fans. See this photo of the Santos supporters celebrating a goal with their massive team flag (and here is the YOUTUBE VIDEO).
When visiting Sao Paulo, any sport fan should put the Museu do Futebol on their list. Built within the walls of the Pacaembu stadium, you can begin to understand the passion Brazil has for its football while visiting this unique museum.
Although football is the dominant and most important sport in Brazil, sport clubs are also popular and are key to the development of all sports. Why Sport Matters was fortunate to tour the biggest club in Brazil – Esporte Clube Pinheiros, with over 35,000 current members. The club is a Mecca for sport enthusiasts with facilities on almost every sport you can imagine, which helps to develop and produce elite athletes such as Olympic swimmers Gustavo Borges and Cesar Cielo (who both trained here). Pinheiros is situated on a massive complex right in the heart of the city (see photo of the internal map to guide members around the facility). Sporting clubs also play a key role in the social environment of Brazil, as these clubs offer families a complete way to spend their days (it has restaurants, theatre, bowling alley and children-only zones).
The next stop for Why Sport Matters takes us to Rio de Janeiro. We look forward to exploring this oceanside city, which will play host to the 2016 Olympic Games…as well as Carnivale in 2 weeks! In mid-February our TRAVEL SCHEDULE will take us to Argentina, Chile and Colombia. Don’t forget to check out our dedicated pages on:
Thanks to Virgilio, Eduardo, Andre, Rodrigo, Mame, the FFC, and all those Paulistas who helped from a distance including Marcelo, Renata, Joao and Andres.
Why Sport Matters: FINAL THOUGHTS FROM AFRICA
Check out this YOUTUBE VIDEO we recorded from Johannesburg, South Africa just as we were boarding our flight to Brazil.