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Fischer: Describing an indescribable experience at the World Cup

So, where to start with my World Cup experience…First off, my family was ridiculously lucky with how everything worked out. We applied for the ticket lottery even before the games were determined, so we had no idea which teams we were going to see play. Instead, we just went by cities and dates. We got the tickets — one first round game, one round of 16 game and one quarterfinal game. It was exciting and crazy enough to be able to see those three games. However, out of sheer luck, the first round game turned out to be USA vs. Germany. Furthermore, since the USA ultimately finished second in their group, we also attended USA vs. Belgium – lucky again!

Each game was completely different — different cities, different stakes for the games and, particularly in Recife, different weather. It absolutely poured on the day of the USA vs. Germany game, as people watching the game at home probably know. While it is the rainy season in Brazil, the amount of rain on that day was apparently pretty unconventional — about 40% of the month’s projected rainfall in a single day! While driving through the streets, it literally felt like we were driving through rivers instead. We talked to some people later who had their taxis and cars actually fill up with water.

At the game, we basically just accepted the fact that we would be soaked, which certainly added to the fun of it all. As far as the actual game is concerned, it was kind of strange because, as a group stage game, it did not matter as much for either team; since the USA could still go through with a loss, we were almost more worried about the Ghana vs. Portugal game going on at the same time, so we asked all of the Brazilians around us to look up the score of that game. I sat next to one man from Brazil who spoke limited English, yet kept talking to me throughout the game, beginning with “I too much like your national song”. In the end, it was strange leaving a stadium where the game had a winner and a loser, yet both sets of fans were happy about the result.

Nothing, though, beat the day of the USA vs. Belgium game. Before the game, my family went to Pelourinho, the historic center of Salvador, to try and find a place to eat and watch the Switzerland vs. Argentina game. Apparently, a lot of other people had the same idea, so we walked through the streets with both Belgian and American fans, singing their songs and chanting “I Believe that We Will Win.” It was such an amazing atmosphere, since everyone was so invested in the World Cup, as people were sitting in a street filled with tables and TVs to watch the game.

Later, when walking to the stadium, there was friendly banter and chanting between USA and Belgium fans, but at the same time, plenty of “good lucks” to go around. My family was so decked out cheering for the USA that random people continuously approached us to take photos with us — both Belgian and Brazilian!

Once inside the stadium, things just kept getting better, since we did not realize until then that we were in row D — the third row. Insane. Only downside to this: for some reason, people do not really like to stand up at games. As such, while my whole family wanted to stand up, because we are USA fans and it was the round of 16, people behind us kept yelling at us. At halftime, the security guard even had to come up, essentially telling the people yelling at us that we could stand up if we wanted.

My brother (who graduated from Stanford in 2012 and was a part of the band) was leading everybody behind us in cheers, getting everybody to chant “USA” and “I believe that we will win”. It was a bit of a letdown when Belgium scored not one, but two goals, but Green’s goal put us back in it. There was such an exciting atmosphere around the game at that point, with everyone cheering so loudly for the USA to score. We even got a close-up view of Tim Howard’s incredible performance, as he made so many of his saves directly in front of us! In the end, even though we did not get a win out of that game, it was difficult to stop smiling at the end. As we found out at dinner, my family even made it on international television multiple times.

Compared to seeing the USA play, the quarterfinal match between France and Germany was quite a different experience, considering I was not so attached to the team I was cheering for (which was Germany). However, I am pretty sure most of the people there were neither German nor French fans, but rather Brazilian fans. The people in yellow in the stadium completely outnumbered everyone else, since Brazil was playing later in the day. It was pretty cool to simply watch the crazy fans on either side, as we were situated between the big group of French fans (chanting “Allez le bleu”) and the German fans (singing and chanting things that involved Deutschland). By the end of the game, however, everyone was singing a song for Brazil. People do not need something projected through the stadium to start their cheers — they just start them themselves.

On that same day, being in Rio for a Brazil quarterfinal win was pretty insane. The city actually shut down for the game — nobody was driving on the roads, and everybody was watching the game. After the win, we immediately went outside to see the Brazilian reaction. The streets were filled with people in yellow shirts, fireworks were being set off from a hotel and people everywhere were cheering and celebrating.

Surprisingly, I am still not sick of the World Cup — if anything, it is more fun to watch now because I know what it is like to be there. One thing I did realize throughout the experience though, is how important it is to watch your home country play, since it creates a far more exciting atmosphere. My World Cup experience obviously would still have been amazing without watching the USA, but now that I have experienced a USMNT game, I certainly understand how amazing that experience can be.

Kylie Fischer has had the chant “I believe that we will win” and the star spangled banner stuck in her head since returning to the states. Share with her your patriotism and national pride by contacting her at kyfisch ‘at’ stanford.edu. 

  • Luciano Freaza

    Hi Kylie!

    I´m glad that you enjoyed the World Cup and had a good time in Brazil.
    Also Stanford is a gorgeous city and I´ve been there.

    Cheers from Salvador,

    Luciano

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