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Brazilian Soccer Rules – Porto Alegre, RS, Brasil

Brazilian Soccer Rules

Porto Alegre, RS, Brasil

The Gremio Stadium at Night: Panorama
The Gremio Stadium at Night: Panorama
Juiz filho da puta! Juiz filho da puta! Indeed the referee was a son of a bitch, but we were only guessing at the time that we yelled out the oft-yelled profanity. From our $4 seats behind the goal, about 20 rows up, we could clearly see better than he. Not only could we see that it was not a foul against our beloved team – Gremio – we could also see that this ref was clearly a son of a bitch. Which is why we chanted such, all in unison – all 25,000 of us.

Tucked away in the opposite corner were the fans from the opposing team, screaming away like awful monkeys. Gremio graciously affords them a whole section – one of the 30 or so – all to themselves, but wisely cordons them off with about 15 policemen, lest their filthy stench and odd mating cheers annoy the rest of us. They make a lot of noise, actually, those greatly outnumbered fans from the other team. I am told the city from whence they come “has a lot of the gays,” which is followed by some funny smiles and helps explain the cheer of, basically, “You guys are gay,” in Portuguese. I don’t remember the exact cheer, but that bears a close resemblance to it.

This unflinching passion for the team is amplified by the accessibility of it all. Prices of tickets in the general admission section – toward the ends and on the hot and sunny side – range from R$5 to R$10, roughly two to four US dollars. This means that anyone who has money to buy a T-shirt with the team’s three colors of blue, black, and white can afford to watch a game and tell the ref he sucks. Likewise, all the refreshments are as cheap as on the outside: Cervejas are an insane (to this American) R$2,50 – 1 US dollar! and a Coke is R$1,50. For some reason on this day I decline multiple offers and sit drinkless for the duration. I simply can’t believe that they don’t swindle all their captive, thirsty fans like all the stadiums in the States.

The Die-Hard Gremio Fans
The Die-Hard Gremio Fans
Anyway, back to the game. That sonuvabitch ref misses call after call, but when our star forward Anderson – all of 16 years old – comes across the top of the penalty box and flips the ball past the goleiro, I spontaneously combust with everyone else, jumping up and down in unison with my friends Vinícius and Leandro. Finding my superfan groove from days gone by feels good, real good. Cell phones are held up for loved ones to hear the jubilee, and I try to shout anything I know in Portuguese – “Gooool” is the first thing that comes to mind. Then more jumping up and down. This happens 3 times. Rinse. Repeat.

When the final whistle sounds, our team has won 3-1, beating those losers from the city of gays. We gather our stuff, and follow the blue blanket of fans slowly exiting the stadium. As we shuffle out the front gate of the stadium, a boatload of vendors accosts us, selling healthy selections of unhealthy churrasquinhos de gato – barbecued cat – basically shish kebabs of salty (salty!) second-rate beef.

Eager to put a finish off this fine day in style, I gladly indulge in one of these cooked cats for all of R$1, and we take the walk of champions back to the car, amidst the droves of blue celebrating the victory. With my pre-dinner on-a-stick in hand, I take in the dusty sun and let the memory of that son of a bitch ref melt away in fatty, salty bliss.


Carl Winter is a Taiwan-born Brazilian/American dual-citizen, living in Brazil for the first time at the age of 28. The posted stories, pictures, flix and digit$ on his website are meant to give an indication of the daily fabric of Brazil — from an outsider’s inside perspective.

If you are planning a trip to Brazil, or just want to say hi, email him at carl @ iid8.com.

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