A stout contingent of Brazilians who call Miami home made their way to Coral Gables Museum yesterday to watch their native team wipe the floor with an over-matched Croatian squad by a score of 3 to 1 in the opening bout of the 2014 World Cup.
Patrica Barbosa is a big time soccer fan. She is also a native of São Paulo who now calls South Florida home. Barbosa was clad in Brazilian garb as she watched the game on a hulking 9' x 16' foot LED screen in the museum's main plaza.
"If they lost, I would want to disappear," Barbosa said of her countrymen in dry fit shirts and cleats running on the pitch a hemisphere away.
"It's the second time we're hosting, and Brazilians can't withstand another loss. I don't know what would happen."
Barbosa was not alone in her passion as the plaza was filled with hundreds of Brazilian partisans, rapt and focused on the action on the field.
Coral Gables Museum's massive World Cup event came about through a partnership with ESPN Deportes. The museum is promoting its current "12 Stadiums, 12 Cities" exhibit that showcases the architecture and aesthetic beauty of the venues constructed to host the global tournament.
"One of the things we focus on [at Coral Gables Museum] is architecture and sustainability," said Christine Rupp, the museum's director. "The stadiums are beautifully designed and they are all built with green in mind and are LEED certified sustainable structures. But we thought, we've got to also show some games."
That's where ESPN Deportes steps into the picture. With Miami's large number of Portuguese speakers, the network hopes to drum up support for its broadcasts of the World Cup in that language. "It's very significant, Miami is a huge priority for us," Lucas Ferraro, the associate marketing manager for ESPN Deportes said. Ferraro also said that Miami stacks near the top of Spanish language markets across the country, and that community events like the one in Coral Gables makes sense for the company.
Claude Chianesse was working out at a gym across the street when he noticed the large number of soccer fans gathered watching the game.
"It's unexpected. I didn't think this would be happening here," Chianesse said.
Despite being Argentinean and supporting that squad, Chianesse was pulling for team Brazil last night. He also said that he loved many elements of soccer that make it a unique experience in the world of sport. "The passion, the nationalism, the tribal mentality, everything," Chianesse said, drying his sweat drenched face.
Ariel Molina is also a supporter of Argentina but was impressed by the sense of community that the event accomplished.
"There is the element of soccer and hopefully this is part of a new trend in Miami. I think soccer adds to the unique element of it."
The crowd would erupt anytime Brazil got the ball deep into Croatian territory.
Brazilian Diana Valeriano was one of the many making noise, and liked what it meant for the greater Miami area.
"I think it says something that's great for the community, something that everyone enjoys," Valeriano said. "It brings everyone together from different parts of the world."
The man in charge of playing pro-Brazilian music over speakers after that team scored was Manuel Padilla, an American born Venezuelan who has been a diehard Argentina fan since he was 8 years old. He said that soccer was special.
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"It's the king of sports. Every single type of person in the world is watching this game right now," Padilla said with a beaming smile. "People wait four years for this. The world stands for a month watching this."
You can watch the Brazil v. Mexico match on June 17 starting at 3 p.m. at Coral Gables Museum. The event is free and open to the public. Visit coralgablesmuseum.org.
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