Thanks to a blog reader/friend, a ticket to the France-Equador game was acquired, at a reasonable price (considering).
And so, your blogger took a free subway ride yesterday (for game attendees), and got out at the São Cristóvão station, as it was closest to the gate nearest our seats. Game tickets were being sold, illegally (and you can be arrested, if caught) at the bottom of the metro stairway, for as “little” as 600 reais.
Then came a long walk on a highway overpass and through six or seven police checkpoints, where all you had to do was wave your very expensive ticket. But first, free face-painting was in order, with stripes in red, white and blue — yellow, red and blue. And lots of posing for pictures, in an atmosphere like Carnival, without the music.
Then a security check, then a walk up several ramps, to the rest room and concessionaire area. FIFA’s alcohol limitations (resulting in long lines) conspired to keep consumption to a minimum, forcing spectators to focus on the game.
Which in this case, was far from exciting. Still, it’s an unforgettable experience to sit in a jam-packed Maracanã, the crowd in opposing colours, chanting either Allez les bleus or Se puede, sí!, and watch those tiny figures desperately trying to make a goal (and the Ecuadorian goalie being impressively heroic), in the newly-renovated stadium which somehow, despite temperate weather outside, was suffocating.
Once the game was over, as we waited for the crowds to clear, a saviour appeared in the form of an ice-cream seller. The R$12 real price was worth every centavo.
A pit stop on the way out proved the bathrooms to be hospitable and clean. In the strangely mirror-less sink (security hazard?), a couple of American women were washing, with great determination, their hoard of FIFA-decorated beverage cups. Which brought to mind the advertising that appeared at one point on the side boards: “FIFA develops football for all”.
“Sounds like The Truman Show”, commented a fellow spectator. And it really was impossible, at least for him and for this blogger, to wholly forget the dark side of the 2014 World Cup. Perhaps a goal or two would have helped. Final score: 0-0, with Ecuador shipping out.