Guide to Football in Brazil
It can be difficult to exaggerate the central role football plays in Brazil and in Brazilian culture generally. During a period when Brazil was often associated with high crime and urban poverty, the success of the Brazilian national team in tournaments like the World Cup and Copa America, and their reputation for 'beautiful football' was the source of tremendous pride to Brazilian people as a rare positive image for the country.
Although these days Brazil is recognised as an emerging economic powerhouse, the style and panache of Brazilian football is one of the first things that comes to mind when you think of Brazil and you wouldn't be the first person to think of taking in a match during your Brazil holiday. Quite apart from the skills on show, the atmosphere Brazilian fans create wherever their team are playing is always fantastic.
Club Football in Brazil
Unsurprisingly, Brazil's biggest teams are from Rio and Sao Paulo, and the biggest of them all is Flamengo, one of the oldest Rio clubs with an estimated fan-base of 35 million - that's just in Brazil, by the way. However, crowds for league games are usually only around 40,000 and are played in the famous 80,000-capacity Maracana stadium, so there's no problem getting tickets. As well as Flamengo, you can also go and watch other great Rio teams like Botafogo, Fluminense and Vasco da Gama, all of whom attract decent crowds.
Although it's the Rio teams who are followed around the country, in Sao Paulo, Santos (Pélé's old team), Sao Paulo FC, Palmeiras and Corinthians are all big, successful teams and are well worth going to watch and if you find yourself in Belo Horizonte (as part of a visit to Ouro Preto, perhaps), then you'll find that Atletico Mineiro's fans are acknowledged as some of the most passionate in the country.
Tickets for Watching Football in Brazil
We'll be happy to help arrange match tickets and stadium visits for most teams in Brazil, but we generally recommend catching a game at the Maracana in Rio if possible. It's such an iconic, famous stadium that even if the game ends up not being the best, it's a great experience. The tricky bit is that league schedules are often messed around with at the last minute and so the best way to proceed is to leave some free days in your holiday itinerary so that we can wait until a few days before you arrive in Rio and see what games are on.