Our Latin America adventure revolved around realising one incredible dream: To go to a World Cup match!
We booked our (very) expensive tickets about six months ago, and in order to guarantee seats we had to purchase a MATCH Hospitality Package. This included prime seats with fantastic views, unlimited alcohol, and a selection of snacks. We must have eaten close to twenty sandwiches that day.
After much stressing with MATCH Hospitality’s shoddy attempt at organising, you know, only the biggest sporting event in the world (it eclipses the Olympic Games by an average of four times their viewership ratings), we got our hands on our prized tickets! After our friend had to cruise all around São Paulo solo, being told at each destination that the tickets aren’t there (even though MATCH stated in an email they were), and being told to visit a random hotel where they were apparently waiting (they weren’t), our hearts managed to avoid minor heart attacks once we finally got them. Other people had this problem too: surely MATCH won’t be organising Russia 2018. It was actually a horrendous experience to get our tickets. Nonetheless, when the big day came in Brazil’s most forward-thinking city, we were ready to cheer on Australia as they took on Spain.
Prior to the match, FIFA representatives came up to us and offered a free, behind the scenes stadium tour. It was only us three and two other Brazilians who went out of the entire crowd! We were taken into the press conference room, the media centre (where all the journalists from around the world come to write about the games), the Socceroos’s locker room, out onto the pitch (where we sat in both Australia’s and Spain’s dugout), and to cap it all off, Sam was given the official match ball to place on the podium for kickoff. It was a once in a lifetime experience, and one that we will never forget!
To celebrate going to the game, which Blair and I had promised we would since October 2007, we all bought several boxes of fireworks (not firecrackers) and set them off in the streets. Because a full day of Budweiser’s is best capped off with explosives!