Corinthians Almost Four Time Champions
There’s a song that the Corinthians soccer team fans sing, and it goes like this: “Corinthians my life, Corinthians my story, Corinthians my love.” Well, it sounds a bit like my own song. Twenty-six years ago I married a Brazilian in Belgium. I wore a white dress, wrapped in a huge Corinthians flag, the flag of the “people” of Brazil. Today, after 26 years, I no longer have the husband, but no negotiations accepted; I kept the country and the team.
It is a very important date; The São Paulo Soccer Club will today be hosting the Corinthians versus Ponte Preta game, which will take place in front of 70,000 confirmed Corinthians fans, against 200 from the opposite team.
Coincidentally, a friend of mine invited me to join his group of friends when he heard about my enthusiasm in watching the game live at the stadium. Here I am, gladly accepting his invitation without any hesitation. The only thing that scares me is that I had happened to hear that he is part of the Gaviões da Fiel (Hawks of the Faithful) which is (how can I describe it?) a group with a very hearty and intense way of supporting its team, sometimes with passionate devotion that goes beyond anything and anyone in their life. Regardless, I read in the newspapers that 1,015 policemen are in the streets protecting the population around the stadium, which happens to be near my house. I might as well go then.
Everybody is nervous. We are 2 hours early, but apparently we are late. It’s ok, I am already used to this ritual so I go with the flow. You must know that to go to a game like this in São Paulo, Rio or Goiás, you must have a small survival kit. Sunglasses, hat and sneakers are very important, but it is even more important to bring a small, old AM radio to be able to listen to journalist Silverio from the Bandeirantes radio station screaming and yelling – in detail – every move and breath of every player on the field. All you wear or bring to the stadium must be black or white, or if you wish you may wear the team’s logo. By the way, you must not make mistakes, like wearing “wrong” colors that might suggest a sympathy for the other team, and still wish to sit around. It is your choice to carry flags with you. Obviously they can be purchased on the way to the stadium.
My ticket for the blue sector, entry number 6, is held tightly in my hands while I listen to the numerous recommendations of my friends – who are not happy anymore to have invited me, since I have a camera in my hands. They do not want to “babysit” any tourists, especially if the game becomes tense or very loose, whatever… After all, we are about to be winners of the Brazilian Soccer Championship for the fourth time.
Now I am here, and in the middle of the Gaviões the “batuque” of the Brazilian drums are very close to us. It’s almost 4:00 pm, it’s 23 degrees centigrade and the sun is really striking hot against all. Who cares? Do you really think you are in Monaco on a boat, or in Capri with slaves turning the ombrelloni your way to protect you from the sun?
Before the game starts, a man runs about selling some shade for 5 Reais. When I look closely I realize it’s a piece of bent cardboard, and the only thing worthy is that he is really risking his life because he is in the middle of about 10,000 impatient and anxious Corinthianos in the final minutes before the great team appears in the field.
This is it!! Wartime. Betão, Gustavo Nery and the famous Carlos Tevez, number 10. Almost 70% of the fans’ shirts have number 10 on their backs, and all the other players’ names are mentioned out loud by the delirious crowd as if they were saying Gods names. The Iranian Kia Joorabchian, president of the MSI, invested 140 million in the team, obviously knowing what he was doing. I could not hear any player names from the opposite team.
Ponte Preta unfortunately manages to score one goal and I do not feel comfortable. My astrologist would say it’s Mercury retrograde, the energy of my fellows around is not the best, many mothers of players of Ponte Preta must not feel that good too, their ears must be whistling.
After the interval, in the second part of the game, a penalty is on the way. I see men praying, kissing crosses, and all of the sudden they all look at me: let the “baby” take a picture of the beautiful penalty we are going to see. I felt a big responsibility, like that was my duty, they all made room for me to be comfortable to shoot the picture and I was scared, so I also prayed the “Ana Becoah” – an easy Jewish prayer. We missed it, but fortunately we scored 3 – 0. We are now closer to the “tetra” next week, after a game with Internacional.
My heart is pounding with joy while, as part of one of the biggest emotions of the game, I watch the enormous Gaviões flag opened on top of all of us, yellow and red colors under the immense blue sky. The very special group and its energy: the Gaviões. A man by my side, who is in tears, asks his girlfriend to marry him.
After a small pause I look up, in the middle of all that chaos, and I thank God for existing, for turning me into a Brazilian, and into a Corinthiana.
Salve o Corinthians.