For Brazilians, Game-Day Rituals Lead To Sense Of Community

Brazil faces off with Germany on Tuesday in the semi-finals of the World Cup. Deep into the tournament now, Brazilian fans have developed a clockwork game-day routine they hope continues.

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STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Brazil faces Germany today in the semi-finals of the World Cup.

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

Deep into the tournament, Brazilian fans have developed a game day routine.

INSKEEP: So we present to you now, with NPR's Lourdes Garcia-Navarro in Sao Paulo, Brazil's World Cup ritual in four acts.

MONTAGNE: Act one - getting to the game.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: I am in a car right now doing what pretty much every single other Brazilian is doing, which is trying to get to where they're going to see the latest Brazil game. And this is pretty much how every Brazil game day starts for everyone. It's in a crush of traffic. In fact, Sao Paulo suffered one of the worst traffic jams in its history during the second Brazil game because of the amount of people leaving work at the same time. Many people didn't make it home and had to listen to the game on the car radio - even famous Brazilian soccer player Pele was among them. He said it was the first time in his life that he hadn't been able to watch Brazil World Cup match in person or on TV.

MONTAGNE: Act two - the game starts.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: What you're hearing now is the sound of pretty much silence. This is one of the busiest streets in Sao Paulo, and it's 5 p.m. on a Friday. It would normally be chockablock. But instead all of the shops around me are shuttered. There are barely any cars on the streets. Everyone's inside watching the Brazil game. Yes, that is creating a drain on productivity in Brazil. Sao Paulo is the most important center for economic activity here, and the city hall has a lot of public institutions to give a day off to its employees on the days Brazil is playing. Most private businesses have allowed workers to go home early, too. Everything closes except for bars, which do a brisk trade.

MONTAGNE: Act three - Brazil scores.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: The silence on the streets suddenly erupts in fireworks, horn blowing and cheers every time Brazil scores a goal. In my neighborhood you can hear everyone yell out in unison. It's an amazing sense of community. For one brief moment, it feels like the entire country is doing the same thing at the same time. But soon everyone is back, intensely watching the match.

MONTAGNE: Act four - Brazil wins.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: In short, everyone goes nuts and parties late into the night. Can you imagine what it is going to sound like if Brazil actually wins World Cup?

MONTAGNE: That's NPR's Lourdes Garcia-Navarro in Sao Paulo with Brazil's World Cup ritual, the ritual they hope lasts beyond today's game.

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