Reda Maher

Brazil 360: Tired of same old ‘Fan Fests’? The ‘Alzirao’ is how the locals do it

Reda Maher

View gallery

.
If you're at a World Cup, it is unlikely you have more than one or two match tickets. Some turn up without any at all, and hope to scalp a seat for a game, regardless of who is playing.

Therefore, FIFA lay on well organised but ultimately sanitised 'Fan Fests' - such as the one on Rio's Copacabana - where you can watch the games, drink overpriced beer and increase your chances of developing diabetes through Coca Cola products.

They're fun but, ultimately, the football equivalent of getting lashed at a shopping mall, at thrice the price.

Rio de Janeiro has its own solution.

View gallery

.
For more than 30 years, a square in the Tujica area of Rio is turned into a singing, dancing football festival, where thousands of fans gather around a large screen in a beautiful urban setting, drinking cheap Brahma and munching on hot dogs as they watch their team in action.

It's called the 'Alzirao' - or 'big Alzira' - named after the street Alzira Brandao, where it is located.

An explosion of colour and noise, it was filled to the maximum for Brazil's match against Mexico on Tuesday afternoon, which was held in Fortaleza.

[FOLLOW REDA ON TWITTER]

Unable to travel for the game due to a packed schedule which involves Spain's match with Chile on Wednesday, I decided to head down and see for myself.

And it was some party. Everyone was decked head to toe in Brazil kit, men and women, young and old, with a convivial, carnival atmosphere that has to be sampled if you're in Rio for these finals.

View gallery

.
Foreigners are welcome too. I met a group of British men in their 40s and 50s, in Rio for Spain-Chile before heading to Sao Paulo for England-Uruguay and then Belo Horizonte for the Costa Rica match.

They were loving it, and the locals were delighted that one Chelsea fan was wearing a Brazil shirt featuring the name of Seleccao hero Oscar.

A young German named Sebastian wandered along solo. He also had tickets for England-Costa Rica but wanted to sample Rio's nightlife and was told by his temporary landlord that this was the place to be. He elected to stay on for the party.

[HOW TO HUSTLE WORLD CUP TICKETS]

The pictures speak for themselves, but probably the highlight for me was the half-time interval, where impromptu samba acts entertained fans as they danced the break away:

I'd never seen anything like it, and - after this experience - the thought of sitting down to watch a match in a chain pub near a mainline railway station can no longer be countenanced.

[SEE ALL OF REDA'S BLOG POSTS HERE]

Brazil were unable to find a way past the Mexicans, but there appeared to be little disappointment as fans drifted into the night looking for another party.

This sprawling juggernaut of a country may not be fully prepared to host a World Cup in the manner to which those in the developed world are accustomed.

But they know how to throw a party and, even if congestion problems around stadia will give fans nightmares, at least there's an unrivalled option to fall back on.

Eurosport’s Reda Maher is on location in Brazil for the duration of the 2014 World Cup - follow him on Twitter @Reda_Eurosport

View gallery

.

View comments (1)