By The Spotter
Early this morning I received a text from a close friend of mine, Richard, who went to Brazil, mainly to do the Rio De Janeiro marathon. His other purpose was to see a top-level football match at the Maracana Stadium, if possible.
As luck would have it, within the last few days of his trip (at the end of this week, I believe), the iconic ‘Fla-Flu’ (Flamengo vs Fluminese- Rio’s bitter rivals) derby match was to take place. At the iconic Maracana. The stadium is still the holder of the record football attendance of some 199,000 (vs Uruguay, in the final tie of the 1950 World Cup. Brazil lost when a draw would have given them their first title. Many blamed the hapless goalie Barbosa for the final goal. His life became a misery thereafter. I’ve written about that before, in fact).
Back to the present though, and quite a while before he jetted off from Auckland, Rich purchased his tickets for that match of a lifetime. Everything was set, including a matchday experience tour that would pick him up from in front of his hotel, arriving at the ground early for a brief historical rundown and quick look around before settling into some prime seating for a day to remember…Only problem being upon arriving in Brazil a matter of days ago Rich was informed the match had been moved to the capital, Brasilia; some 1160 kilometres away!
You would have thought there would have been some security/logistical reason for this. But no. He learnt the decision was taken to move the match only ten days out from kick-off solely because the local government of Brasilia had suddenly put up an exorbitant sum of money for the game to be moved there. And it’s now set in concrete. Goodbye incredible experience.
As Rich opined, it would be like the NZR having a test match with the Springboks scheduled for Auckland and just a week or two before the match, the Dunedin City Council gets approval to offer NZR a small fortune for the game to be moved down there, and hey presto, it happens. Naturally, that’s off-the-scale nuts (not to mention stinking of corruption) and no New Zealander would ever contemplate such a scenario.
Sorry that I’m currently not able to ascertain if Rich got a refund in full or what the heck the story is. What I can tell you is he did manage to attend another huge clash early this morning NZ time, involving Flamengo and Corinthians (Brazil’s biggest club-I think). Flamengo won 1-0 with a late goal. However, Rich had to high tail it to the stadium almost immediately after the marathon. He felt, in his own words, ‘absolutely stuffed’.
I guess Rich was, in the end, lucky enough to have had the chance to see a game at the Maracana after all, but all those decisions above are almost totally unbelievable. Or have we been missing something for a long time about the way football and politics work over there? I’ve heard unreal tales of corruption from some of my Brazilian English-language students, but nothing along these lines in football over there, and to that huge extent. Holy moly.
A footnote: Rich told me he had struggled through the marathon in the hot conditions; was over 25 cel. His time was still highly impressive though: 3 hours and 20 mins. Not to mention he’s over sixty years of age. A lot older than myself. Yikes. Now that’s what you call a runner.