Sports in Brazil

Sports in Brazil is a guide that we have created to some of the key elements to life in Brazil - which is a country steeped in sporting tradition. The beach lifestyle in Brazil is incredibly healthy and leads Brazil to success at a number of sports...but, almost inevitably, Brazilian sport is always undertaken in the carnival spirit, with samba drums being played in every stadium across the country. Sports in Brazil is truly a great experience!

Brazil Football

Brazil Football is a massive part of the local culture and so it makes sense to dedicate a bit of the site to how the season works in Brazil and how you as a traveller will be able to get involved.

Each of the major cities have at least one famous football team, and in Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro there are 3 - 4 big teams with huge followings. Getting into matches is pretty easy and relatively safe. Crowd trouble used to be a big part of Brazilian football but now that beer is banned in the stadiums and the policing has been significantly stepped up there is a sense of security and calm that was not there 10 years ago.

Going to a football match in Brazil is something that I would highly recommend. It is a real festival of all things Brazilian, with samba beats being played on large drums, a kaleidoscope of colours and the passion that can be felt throughout the stands is something that will forever stay with me. I went to a game in the famous Maracana stadium in Rio to watch Flamengo (the team with the largest fan-base in Brazil) get beaten by a lower division local rival called Resendes. It was well worth doing and it was a wonderful experience.

The best way to get information and tickets to the local games is through your hostel. Most of the big hostels will arrange trips to the stadiums on match days for a relatively good price. I would highly recommend going on these trips if you are in any way nervous or unsure about safety. The hostels will have deals in place with the local teams and be able to give the "safety in numbers" feeling that you would not get if you were on your own.

Flamengo v Resendes at the Maracana
Flamengo v Resendes at the Maracana

That being said, I went to a game in Rio with the hostel and very quickly decided that the real atmosphere would be with the local "die-hard" fans of the team so went to stand with them. I had no problems and felt secure, but I have spent much of my life going to football games around the world so am fairly used to the atmosphere.

Football in Brazil cannot be discussed without at least mentioning the FIFA World Cup 2014, being staged across the country in June 2014. It is going to be an incredible experience and I am already saving up so I can spend the whole 4 or 5 week period travelling across the country.

As we get closer to the event, Adventure Travel South America will be creating a page dedicated to the World Cup to provide as much information as we can.

Formula 1 in Brazil

Formula 1 in Brazil is a huge sport with an incredibly passionate following. At the start of the 2012 season there is one Brazilian driver on the grid, Bruno Senna, who is the nephew of the great Ayrton Senna (see below). The final race of the season traditionally takes place in Sao Paulo, where there is an old fashioned race track and has seen some unbelievable remembered by the British for Lewis Hamilton producing a stunning final corner overtake to win the Formula 1 Drivers Championship in 2008. In 2012 the race will take place over the last weekend of November.

Formula 1 globally is synonymous with the name Ayrton Senna. The three time Formula 1 world champion that will always be remembered as one of the greatest drivers that the sport has ever seen. Tragically his life was cut short during the San Marino Grand Prix in 1994 and his death led to a revolution in the standards of safety in the sport.

There is much that can be written about Senna...his incredible celebrity lifestyle, the string of girls linked to him, his tumultuous relationship with Alain Prost in their McLaren days and also, perhaps most important of all, is the legacy that he left behind. Just a few months before his death Senna had been discussing the foundation of a charity to benefit those in Brazil that were less fortunate than himself. Since his death, the Instituto Ayrton Senna has raised over $80m to help children achieve their potential.

Vanderlei de Lima

When discussing sports in Brazil the name Vanderlei de Lima is not one that immediately springs to mind, perhaps a little unsurprisingly given the success of the national football team and the legacy of Ayrton Senna. Vanderlei is best remembered for his performance in the Athens Olympics 2004 where he was competing to become the first Brazilian to ever win the Olympic marathon. At mile 22, with a lead of around 30 seconds, Vanderlei was grabbed by a spectator and stopped...he managed to break free with some assistance and carried on in the race. Unfortunately for Brazil, Vanderlei could not regain his focus and eventually finished the race in third place and won a bronze medal.

At the closing ceremony of the games, Vanderlei was honoured with the award of the Pierre de Coubertin medal. This is a medal that awards the spirit of sportsmanship in the games and has been awarded only 11 times in history.