A very long walk through the bowels of The Olympic Stadium took me up to the concourse where the Internacional supporters had congregated and, never having seen Brazilian supporters in the flesh before, nothing could have prepared for the noise and enthusiasm that they have brought to this competition. Never mind that it’s raining in Tokyo this evening. The sun was shining on these people – and everybody, even this dishevelled Cockney was invited. Maria and Julio (left) had travelled from Porto Alegre earlier in the week. Were they confident of winning tonight? In extremely broken English (and after having mistaken me for a Frenchman), Maria explained, “we will win today by four… no, five… no ten!”. Such confidence! I have no idea whether this rubs off on the players or not, but it can’t do any harm.
The truly noticeable thing about them was how much they’d drunk, and how little trouble they were going to cause. The girls at the food and drink stalls were being inundated with all manner of propositions, ranging from the innocent to the frankly indecent, but seemed to be taking it in the spirit in which it was meant. One of the Brazilians, with a red curly wig was mouthing “I love you” to a particularly bemused looking Japanese girl. He turned to me and said mournfully, “I don’t think she understands English”.
It’s easy to see how the Brazilian fans win people over so easily. They’re a tornado of noise, colour and singing. It’s almost irresistible. You feel the urge to put down whatever it is that you’re carrying, paint your face yellow and blue, grab a couple of beers, and join in. The tournament is all the richer for them being here. I wouldn’t to get on the wrong side of them when they’re angry, though!