Streets filled with yellow and green jerseys, the blaring cry of horns and vuvuzelas, and a feeling of community amongst fans helped kick off the opening day of the World Cup in Brazil.
Fans gathered from all over the world for FIFA Fan Fest in São Paulo, Brazil. The public event, offered in all 12 host cities, provides an atmosphere for fan entertainment while displaying broadcasts for all matches throughout the World Cup.
Bret Johnson, 26, from Orange County, California, feels a sense of community with the fellow fans in Brazil as opposed to pre-game events held in the U.S.
“I’ve done American college football, but the thing about over here is that everyone is in a great mood no matter what part of the world you’re from,” Johnson said. “For example, I’m from California and UCLA and USC people do not like each other. Here, I have a great time with Mexicans and Brazilians. No one is upset, and everyone is just on the same page and everyone’s happy just to be here.”
FIFA Fan Fest began in 2006 and is a relatively new experience for many spectators. The event also serves as a unique atmosphere for those from different countries who are not accustomed to the tailgating environment.
Michael Davies, 25, from London, England, attended the World Cup in France in 1998. He explained that pre-game events in London share few similarities to the experience in Brazil.
“At home, we would go to the pub. We’re not quite so musical or dance-like,” Davies said. “Less horns, more alcohol. More drinking, less outdoors. The weather is not quite the same in the UK, so we don’t have the same experience.”
Fans are exposed to many people who support different teams. Though some could see this as a potential problem, many fans use the event as a bonding experience.
Rodrigo Sola, 25, from Salta, Argentina, looks forward to meeting people from all over the world. He feels a sense of community during the World Cup in that, despite the country any fan is from, they are friends.
“My surprise here was that the people here are very nice to Argentine people,” he said. “Argentina and Brazil have a rivalry from history. We come here, and people are nice and don’t have any problem. It’s incredible that people join us.”
Sola described that inside Argentina, there are differences among the local teams, but during the World Cup it is like a huge family.
“We don’t know a lot of the people here, but we shine together because they are from Argentina,” Sola said. “I don’t mind if they’re from River Plate, Boca Juniors, Independiente, I don’t mind. We shine together.”
FIFA Fan Fest will continue to broadcast matches throughout the World Cup in the 12 host cities and is free and open to the public.