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Guide to Fútbol in Rio

July 26, 2015

Fútbol — otherwise known as soccer in countries not on the metric system — is arguably the most popular game in the world. It is certainly the most popular game in Rio.

Where to see fútbol in person

Maracanã Stadium
Maraca Stadium on June 2013

Maracanã Stadium is Brazil’s most famous fútbol stadium. Like the beach, fútbol is more than a game in Rio — it’s a lifestyle, a passion, a ritual with deep cultural importance.

To properly plan your game day, you will want to find a Portuguese speaker. Why? The league schedules are mostly unavailable in English. Then you have to choose an seat in the right area, and find your way to the stadium.

Luckily, fútbol is played year-around. If you avoid seeing a major team, you may not even need to buy tickets in advance — simply show up at the stadium and buy your tickets. You will probably want to buy tickets in-person. While buying tickets online is possible, it’s not terribly straightforward, often requiring a Brazilian ID number and local address.

To classico or not to classico?

The most epic games are known as classicos — matches between historically great teams. Rio’s classico-level teams are Flamengo, Fluminense, Vasco and Botafogo. Sao Paulo has Sao Paulo FC and Palmeiras.

If you only see one game in Rio, and you want to make it a big one, hold out for a classico. The experience is markedly different, with emotions running high and the full fútbol spirit in the air.

The next best thing

Pelada de Siqueira Campos
Pelada de Siqueira Campos on Facebook

Pick-up games are common on Rio’s beaches. These informal games, known as peladas, can provide an alternative if you don’t want to shuffle your way to a stadium. Bonus: catching a pelada can be a great way to meet locals and make a friendly carioca friend or three.

Our favorite pelada is Pelada de Siqueira Campos, which takes place on Copacabana beach on Sundays at 10:30 AM.

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