A major international event that starts in June 14th with of all 10 best South-American soccer teams.
Have you ever imagined what it feels to watch a soccer match in a stadium in Brazil? The sounds, the cheer, the fear, the crowds, the passion; all the elements that surround this “Brazilian Religion”? Well, Copa America (a major international event that starts in June 14th) can be the perfect experience! It is one of the six Continental Confederations Tournaments, but we would very much like it to be known as the most fun of all Continental tournaments! Just stop to think about it: it is the meeting of all 10 best South-American soccer teams (plus Japan and Qatar as invited teams), fighting for one trophy and the spot in the Confederations Cup. I mean, can it get better than that?
If you missed the opportunity (and if you didn’t, here’s your chance to refresh your memory) to participate in the last World Cup, it’s time for you to take a seat, fasten your seatbelts and come experience the Magic World of Brazilian “Football”!
Soccer is what brings Brazilian people together, a lot like the subway in NY: it doesn’t matter who you are, your social status or where you live, all it matters is that we are all there for one reason only: a “national drama”. But much the opposite of the subway drama, our drama is moved by passion, practice and the love of the fans: also known as the “torcidas”. Those groups vibrate so intensely and chant so loudly while cheering that it’s impossible not to feel the passion, the suffering, and joy while you watch your team play. And with the rivals being not only our neighbors but also our Latin brother and sisters, the grandstands will be surely energetic, a classic novel of love and rivalry.
The 46th edition of the Copa America will take place in five different cities in Brazil from June 14th to July 7th. The five chosen cities are not only home to the loudest and famous national soccer teams but a great top five places to explore the country through art, history, culture, and people. Here, we give you the highlights of visiting Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Salvador, Belo Horizonte, and Porto Alegre, in the hopes of proving once and for all that this should be known as the most fun of all tournaments!
BELO HORIZONTE (MINAS GERAIS)
Colonial baroque and bars and more bars
The name itself could be all there is, a “Beautiful Horizon”, but not only Belo Horizonte is surrounded by an amazing mountain range but it is also a buzzing metropolis. Home to “mineiros” (as the locals are called), known for their kind and soft-spoken words and their love for cachaça – the love is such that the city has the highest amount of bars per capita in Brazil. Here you are guaranteed a great nightlife, delicious and unique culinary (this is home to Brazilian cheese, rustic fruit compotes, beans, and pork dishes), baroque architecture and art, modern architecture by Niemeyer – check out the Pampulha Complex – and city and nature related adventures, all in one place.
What you will also find here are soccer fans of the biggest and most traditional state soccer team: Atletico Mineiro, aka “Galo” (Rooster) and its rival Cruzeiro, aka “Raposa” (Fox).
The Mineirão Stadium, the biggest one in the state, with a capacity of over 58 thousand people, is the second ground for Atletico players and it will host its first game on June 16th, Uruguay vs. Ecuador and the last game to be held on July 2ndfor the semi-finals.
If you cannot experience the live games at the stadium, don’t worry! The “city of bars” is there to give you an experience as close as the real thing as you can get. Most bars stream the games, so you can just sit down and enjoy a cold beer at the famous street of Savassi, a big stretch concentrating the main bars and nightlife where you begin and most likely where you will end your night!
African roots and beachside
The capital of Bahia is the most African city outside of Africa; dubbed as the “Land of happiness”, Salvador is a colonial city filled with colorful houses, beautiful beaches, and a rich musical scene. Bahia is considered the state of music, axé being its most prominent genre, with a lot of famous national bands and singers. The meaning of the word Axé is ‘the dynamics of energy’ from the Yorubá African language, and this is what you get when you visit: good vibes only! Axé is also a spirited and fun way to say ‘farewell’ when meeting a friend.
A beach city with a strong nightlife, Salvador harbors unique culinary, filled with spices, colors, and seafood, all a great influence from our African roots. Vatapá and acarajé are the two snack staples of the State and should be enjoyed with a cold beer in the other hand and some good spiciness threshold in your system.
The most traditional and main team here is actually Bahia, a first-tier team which is also referred to as “Baêa” (a loving way to call the squad) with its ground at the Fonte Nova Arena – where you will also see the games for this tournament. The arena has a capacity for 48 thousand people and the games will begin on June 15thwith Argentina and Colombia game. On June 18th, Fonte Nova will host an epic game between Brazil and Venezuela; and this is your chance to come cheer! And remember, between every game you can always hang out by the beach, delight yourself with some true art and culture at the Pelourinho (downtown) and if you can’t be at the arena, bars and public events will stream and specials for food and drinks.
PORTO ALEGRE (RIO GRANDE DO SUL)
German roots and famous barbecue (‘churrasco’)
Porto Alegre, the capital of Rio Grande do Sul, located in south side of Brazil, a city influenced not only by the Portuguese, but also by Germans and Polish, which makes the city very close (by distance and way) of its neighbors Argentina and Uruguay (look out for those matches! They promise to be epic!).
The city surrounds the eastern bank of the famous Guaíba River, which is a conversion of 5 other riverbanks. Its privileged location allows for milder temperatures comparing to the other cities hosting the Copa America. The temperature brings great surprises as well; such as the famous ‘chimarrao’ an herbal drink to keep you warm, as well as the famous Brazilian barbecue, churrasco – which you really should be trying right now! Porto Alegre has a beautiful city center – where you can find more evidence of Renaissance art rather than Baroque as in Minas or Salvador – spectacular nightlife, with theaters, museums, amazing restaurants and bars.
When it comes to football the fans are divided into two main teams, Gremio and Internacional (aka “Inter”). Both teams play a big role in the country’s football scene, having each earn trophies worth of both national and international tournaments. If that “rivalry” wasn’t enough, their stadiums (Olimpico Monumental is Gremio’s ground and Beira-Rio is Inter’s) are 2.5 km apart, close enough to hear each other’s chanting!
The games here kick off on June 15th, at Gremio’s arena, a match between Peru and Venezuela. The last game in Porto Alegre is the semi-finals on July 3rd. Although tickets are already on sale and you should guarantee your brilliant spot, there’s a lot of entertainment outside of the stadium. Make sure to go celebrate at ‘SoHo’ block, a bright spot for bars, food, and nightlife where you can always find bars streaming the games. There’s also ‘Cidade-Baixa’, Downtown, where historical streets offer traditional bars and great drinks, and Moinho dos Ventos, with its posh bars and nightlife.
SÃO PAULO (SÃO PAULO)
Sao Paulo is South America’s largest city and perhaps because of such grandeur, it welcomes diversity, art, culture, and business in all its shapes and forms. Although the capital does not boast of sandy beaches, the city couldn’t possibly be more fun! With an incredible variety of renowned museums and cultural activities, international festivals, famous theaters, and many other cultural offerings, the true gem of the city is the gastronomy, a melting-pot of all cultures and backgrounds – it is calculated over 100 ethnicities influences this metropolis.
The culinary offer there is vast, home to Michelin starred restaurants, World-renowned chefs and new-and-up-comers that promise future titles for the country and the city. The Ibirapuera Park is the place to relax or go for a cultural activity at the museum. It not only attracts tourists but a lot of paulistas (how locals are called) who see the park as their “weekend gateway”. With busy streets for a complete nightlife, you can bar-hop in places such as Augusta Street, from club to club, until you end up at an ‘After-party” that will only end by 12pm, the next day.
The city grandeur continues all the way to sports because this is where Brazilian soccer was born. Home to three very powerful teams and old-time rivals, Corinthians, Palmeiras, and Sao Paulo, the city completes its legacy with a Football Museum at the Pacaembu stadium.
On June 14th at the Morumbi Stadium – the city biggest stadium – will host the opening of the Copa America, a game between Brazil and Bolivia, which is sure to be a great start for this year’s tournament. On the 22nd, this time at the Corinthians Arena, it is time for Brazil and Peru; quarter-finals and the third-place play-off will also take place in Sao Paulo.
Even though this is the only city having two different stadiums hosting the game, if you can’t get the tickets, well, you are still in for a treat! Sao Paulo is known for a very particular type of bar, a “Team’s Bar”. The typical botecos (‘Brazilian rustic pubs’) are owned by football aficionados that state that that bar is a sanctuary for that specific team. But since Copa America represents Brazil and not a regional team, chances are you can watch in any Team’s bar and learn what is to cheer until your lungs hurt. Specifically the bohemian neighborhood of Vila Madalena with its very laid back yet traditional bars – you can find a great place that will stream the games, grab yourself a drink and some typical Brazilian snacks and maybe even swap some team’s jerseys along the way.
RIO DE JANEIRO (RIO DE JANEIRO)
The Wonderful city
Rio needs no introduction, as we are sure you know wonderful things about; it’s no surprise that it is called “Cidade Maravilhosa” (“Wonderful City). The Cariocas (as locals are called) are warm, welcoming, communicative and fun to be around, it must be all that sun-drenched beaches and the city surrounded by magnificent nature. We are going to skip the usual touristic tips here, Christ the Redeemer, Sugarloaf Mountain or even mention Copacabana beach, and go straight to what it matters now: soccer in Rio. Rio is the epitome of Brazilian football. The city is divided between four main teams, all of them definitely in the list of the most heavily regarded teams in the country: Flamengo, Vasco da Gama, Botafogo and Fluminense, the first one having a fan base of over 30 million aficionados.
Football here is a religion, you can see people playing, practicing or even so relaxing with friends while going for a ‘pelada’(informal match) at the beach, at the park, on the streets. And if soccer wasn’t enough you can catch a glimpse of “futevôlei” at the beach – a volleyball-style game played entirely with, you got it, your feet!
But the real pride of the city is the Maracanã stadium, once the biggest in the world – still the biggest in Brazil – and recently renovated, the stadium opened in 1950 for the World Cup and can host more than 78 thousand people. Used mainly by matches between the Carioca teams – if there’s a Fla x Flu match (Flamengo and Fluminense), the city will stop to watch this classic. This year, during Copa América, Maracanã will host the final on July 7th and it is sure to not only stop traffic, but the whole city will be holding their breath. But before that, on June 18th, Bolivia and Peru will dispute the first game in the city.
Now, if you can’t make it to the stadium, you can still watch the games and celebrate it “carioca style”. Grab your sunblock and be ready to watch the matches at botecos – where you will be most possibly standing up by the sidewalk holding a beer, on your swim trunks (or bikini, whichever you prefer) and learning the chants and cursing. This is the time where it doesn’t matter if you cheer for Botafogo or Vasco, the city comes together as one and the chants are heart filling and a unique and amazing expression of what is for a country to live, love and cry for football.