SAO PAULO, Brazil – Hundreds of Palmyra fans lined up on the small sidewalk streets around Allianz Park, craning their throats to try to catch a glimpse of what they could find on any television screen. Epidemic means they can’t make it to the finals in Rio de Janeiro. But it also meant they couldn’t even go to bars and rest restaurants rent, which is restricted to weekend takeout service.
Instead, fans improved. Some of them, residents of adium apartment buildings and houses around the stadium, home to their favorite Palmyras soccer team, angle their screens so they can be seen on the streets outside. Other fans crowded outside the bar and cafe, cheeks full, flags over their shoulders.
His thoughts were 300 miles away, inside the famous Maracani, in the scorching heat of Rio, where his team was facing its rival Santos in the Copa Libertadores final, while the South American club was playing for the biggest prize of soccer.
In the ordinary world, of course, many of them were there, flooded by thousands, by plane and by car and by road, just to get there, to see the spiritual home of Brazilian soccer in green and white. This, after all, was a historic moment: for the first time since 2006, the Libertadores final was fought by two Brazilian teams, and the first time that two teams from the state of Sઓo Paulo had fought it.
Most of them may not be there, of course, because this is not a normal world. Only 1,000 fans were allowed to take part in the finals in person – all of them were selected by the respective clubs instead of selling special tickets, and all of them were packed into a few open sections of the counter 78,000 seats. Than spreading its huge, seemingly empty bowl.
But even if circumstances had changed, there were no old tendencies. Over the last 10 months, it has become clear that – no matter the risk or the restrictions – if soccer is played, which means it’s for the moments, then fans will be asked to stay together.
And so Palmyra fans came to Allianz Park on Saturday, in a place that feels like home, to drink, sing and hoist their flag just hours before the start of the game. They waited a long time for this – their team had not been crowned South American champions since 1999 – and they would have to wait 90 minutes more of their carefully defined game than their quality, what could be won by teams playing more consciously. Can be lost than is.
Then, in a hurry, it happened. The melee on the sidelines, and Santos’ PV coach, said goodbye to Kuka. This 90 minutes was over, the clock was ticking and the clock was ticking deep into the time of the injury. Eight minutes later, Ronnie, the star of Palmyra, was searching, one by one. Brano lops, its jump time, Santos ran his header over the goalkeeper.
He ran towards the fans, and reddened the seats to get them and his teammates. Palmyra won it. And in the bottom streets around Allianz Park, those who couldn’t be there, in the end, seemed to be.