Photo: Vladimir Melnik/Shutterstock

7 Things You Won't See Inside Brazil's World Cup Stadiums

Brazil Travel
by Felipe Sant'Ana Pereira May 28, 2014
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1. Vuvuzelas

The notorious revelation of the last World Cup won’t be landing in Brazil. These trumpets, traditional cheering instruments at the great South African tournament, were shown — and blown — to the world via the media in South Africa 2010, to be later disapproved of almost unanimously by the soccer world.

They were rejected by players, who had trouble communicating with their teammates during matches due to the noise. They were unpopular among commentators for the same reason. After South Africa, the vuvuzela was banned from the major European soccer competitions.

Many will sigh with relief when they notice this remarkable absence. But “if you thought vuvuzelas were bad,” The Guardian warned in April, “wait until you hear the caxirola.”

2. Caxirolas

The caxirola entered the fray to replace the doomed vuvuzela as a symbol of the World Cup. Created by musician Carlinhos Brown in partnership with the Brazilian government, the green and yellow rattles were tested during the regional derby between Bahia and Vitória in April, 2013.

However, being defeated by their arch-rival so infuriated the supporters of the home team, Bahia, that fans ended up throwing hundreds of caxirolas onto the field, forcing the referee to pause the match, an event that became known as “the caxirola revolt.”

The caxirola was then vetoed by the state and by FIFA, who had previously gone as far as to declare the instrument an official World Cup product. The millionaire dreams of Carlinhos Brown came to an end (the plan was to produce up to 50 million units), and other megalomaniacal businessmen showed up to fill the vacuum left by the ouster of the rattle. One example is the pedhuá, which you’ve most likely never heard of.

3. Pedhuás

After the collapse of the caxirola, an idea surfaced in Campina Grande, in the state of Paraíba. The pedhuá is a palm-sized plastic whistle inspired by an indigenous instrument that mimics bird sounds. The similarities between it and the caxirola aren’t few.

The plan was also to produce 50 million units. The instrument gained approval from the ministry of sport and was authorized to receive the World Cup trademark. National celebrities endorsed the initiative; TV directors, musicians, and actors were seen trying the whistle. In spite of such efforts, its future doesn’t look promising.

The pedhuá Facebook page has only around a thousand followers, the instrument is unknown by the overwhelming majority of Brazilians, and its 15 minutes of media fame ended in mid-2013.

4. Guerrilla stunts

Guerrilla stunts are low-cost advertising maneuvers by which small brands raise awareness through unusual forms of communication. Complicated in theory, simple in practice. Just remember the group of Dutch beauties who attracted the attention of television cameras during the match between the Netherlands and Denmark at the last World Cup. They wore orange (the Netherlands’ color) and skirts with the logo of the Bavaria Brewery, a competitor of Budweiser, who was an official sponsor of the event. The police forced the girls to leave the stadium, and the initiative was then reprehended by FIFA.

According to the institution, such episodes, which it refers to as “parasite marketing,” won’t occur again in Brazil. FIFA reinforced the restrictions imposed on non-sponsoring companies with the General World Cup Bill of Law, enacted in 2012 with approval from the federal government.

Implemented on a temporary basis, the law (actually, a set of laws that apply to the Confederations Cup, the World Youth Day, and the World Cup) overrides the national constitution in some aspects and, precisely because of this, is quite controversial.

5. Your favorite beer

In fact, the General World Cup Bill of Law has temporarily repealed the national ban on the sale of alcoholic beverages inside stadiums, which has been in effect since 2008. Since Budweiser is one of the sponsors of the event, only brands of its holding (ABInBev) may be sold in the stadiums. If your taste preference lies among the labels of the biggest brewer conglomerate in the world, fine. But if you expect to find the internationals Heineken and Sol, or the local brands Kaiser, Schin, and Itaipava, you’d better think again.

6. Your favorite typical food

In addition to standardizing the beverage offerings inside the stadiums, the General World Cup Bill of Law will do the same with foods, ignoring regional variations of soccer gastronomy.

Street vendors not accredited by FIFA or one of its official sponsors are not allowed to operate in the stands or inside an exclusion zone that may extend a 2km radius from them. In practice, this means it’ll probably be impossible to eat feijão tropeiro (“trooper’s beans” — cooked beans mixed with cassava flour, a regular treat in the state of Minas Gerais during soccer games) while watching matches at the Mineirão stadium in Belo Horizonte, or acarajé (a traditional northeastern dish made from fried, mashed black-eyed beans) inside the Fonte Nova stadium in Salvador.

However, nothing prevents a tourist from taking a snack or fruit into a World Cup stadium.

7. Bananas

Bananas came under the spotlight when, before a corner kick, Barcelona’s right-winger Daniel Alves picked up and ate a fruit that had been thrown onto the field at him. This event was enough to start an anti-racist crusade in social media. Neymar Instagrammed a photo of himself eating a banana with his son, under the hashtag #WeAreAllMonkeys. Dozens of other national and international celebrities repeated the gesture. Controversy arose when an advertising agency admitted to having planned the informal campaign. Villareal, Barcelona’s adversary in the fateful match in April, quickly found and banished the fan who’d thrown the fruit. Repercussions peaked about one month before the World Cup’s opening.

The polemics continue — about the spontaneity of Daniel Alves’ gesture, about the meaning of the hashtag that went viral, and even about the opportunism of a Brazilian television host who began selling t-shirts featuring a stylized banana.

Controversies aside, one thing is certain. Whoever dares to take a banana as a snack into a stadium will receive a side look endowed with disapproval from neighboring fans. The same that’s already targeted the vuvuzela, the caxirola, the pedhuá, guerrilla stunts, and the ill-famed General World Cup Bill of Law.

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