I arrived in Brazil yesterday while the final game of the World Club Cup (a tournament made by the best soccer teams of each continent) was going on. As soon as the airplane touch the ground I called my nephew and learned that the game was tied. I told the news to the people inside of the plane and many people were relieved. We all go through customs and even there Federal officers were listening to the game. We were all anxious and tense and we started talking about the game. I left to get my luggage and while there we heard that Corinthians scored a goal. What a joy! Everybody screamed and jumped up and down. My luggage never arrived and I had to file a complain with Delta. While one of the employees was doing the computer work I was watching the end of the game with two other Delta employees. I guess she said my luggage would arrive the next day but I didn’t pay much attention, I had the game to watch (it is Monday evening and I never heard from Delta…). I was about to have a heart attack when Chelsea scored at goal at the end of the game. But no, the Chelsea player was offside, so it couldn’t be validated. The game finally ended and many of us started to shout and hug each other like family. My friend Marcos was outside to pick me up.
We drive and people are celebrating almost on every street. 33 million people, the largest soccer crowd of supporters in Brazil. Corinthians fans are everywhere. Corinthians is known for invading other places to support the team. In 1976, 70.000 supporters invaded Rio de Janeiro to support the team in what was known as the largest in-between state movement of soccer fans in history. In 2000, Corinthians did it again now with 50.000 to celebrate the first World Cup Club Championship. Now, in Japan, 20.000 fans traveled 30 hours to support the team. Thousands of other fans went from US, Australia, Europe, Africa, to join Corinthians. At the stadium, 68.000 people were watching the game and at least 50.000 were Corinthians fans. During the game, they sang every minute making Yokohama in Japan feel like São Paulo.
Invasion of Rio de Janeiro in 1976
Corinthians fans are known for being too crazy about this team. In fact, for this tournament, the fans are the ones to be mostly celebrated. In Brazil, the Brazilian writer Juca Kfouri once said that every soccer team has a group of supporters but Corinthians fans are the only crowd who actually own a team. 15.000 fans walked by the bus to take the team to the airport. And to get to Japan we heard the most incredible (taken literally here as hard or impossible to believe) stories: people sold cars, their fridges, stoves and even their houses, left their families behind and spent their savings just to go to Japan. People who would not leave even their neighborhood now are going across the globe for this experience. But it seems it was worth it. Corinthians won the game and is now the world champion (here WORLD is also taken literally here, since there were soccer teams representing from all parts of the globe, a little different from the Baseball or football world championship).
Corinthians has such as impact in Brazil that happiness covered the country, or enormous parts of it. It was as if life had full meaning, history made sense, justice was everywhere and suffering and tears were wiped away from people’s faces. Even a very sad place filled with drug-addict people in São Paulo had people watching the game and feeling joyful. One of the people there said: “Today life is almost happy because Corinthians won.” The fullness of time was shockingly possible! Now the world can end.
At the arena that host the largest organized Corinthians fans club, 20.000 people arrived Saturday night and waited for the game to start at 8:30 am to watch it together. Koinonia, togetherness and a common love put this people together. It is better to be together whether Corinthians wins or loses. Finally, tension, nervousness and anxiety gave place to tears of happiness, hugs, shouts of untold secular alleluias, hugs and joy, pure joy shared with a passion that feels like a sacrament. An image of Saint Jorge, Corinthians’ patron, suddenly appeared in the hands of people. The image floated throughout the space as people touched the image and cried and said prayers thanking God for this unspeakable miracle, for this indescribable joy.
To watch the whole game: