On Sunday I ventured into Emirates territory, which for football fans is not a nation but a football stadium, for an experience of international flavour.I choose the word flavour appropriately, as the two combatants of Brazil and Chile took the field. The game? Well it was dire to tell the truth, and despite the presence of Sanchez and Neymar, there was little to get excited about. Apart for the three pitch invaders, one of whom entered the playing field to hug the Brazilian captain, and another for nothing but a jog where he returned to his seat afterwards with a “what did I do wrong” attitude.
The loyal readers will know that a visit to the Emirates isn’t common for me, in fact this was my fifth trip there – 3 Arsenal games (one corporate, two when the wife couldn’t go and the seat would be empty) and Muse live in 2013. I’ll save my judgement for a future blog when the Spurs stadium is completed, but I was glad we were in the upper tier when the rain came down during half time.
As I said the game was poor, finishing 1-0 due to a Firmino goal, but the best part of the day was the trip to the game. On the bus we ended up sitting with a 12-strong Chilean family who now reside in North London, who had not only printed off song sheets of the Chilean national anthem, but convinced us on which team to support.”Sing the national anthem loud” we were instructed, my efforts on the bus to even pronounce the words gaining some approval. Inside the stadium, the national anthems were a little one-sided as the unsegregated seating meant there were no central sections to create that singing, and the “plastic fans” mostly chose the gold and green team. Also, when the Brazilian national anthem was played, there was singing on the recorded version.
This event was sponsored by Chrysler as part of a world tour by Brazil, and appropriately too as some members of the Brazilian team still play in Brazil, whilst Chilean internationals play across Europe and for QPR. I’ve been to a couple of these tournaments in the past, which are dressed up friendlies in order to get a sponsor logo on the stadium and a crowd to see it (Emirates Cup anyone?) and overall I have no problem with it, but I do have a problem with poor performances and an unknown Brazilian team.
The number 3 bore a resemblance to Roberto Carlos but in stature only, whilst of the Chelsea Brazilians, only Felipe Luis appeared. There was no Dani Alves, no Daniel Luiz whilst Marcelo looked uninspiring. On the Chilean side, the substitutes were cheered, but like Neymar, those local fans were there to see Alexis, and neither star really shone.
The game came during an international weekend and some would have ticked this and the England game on Friday night, we didn’t see England but did catch the end of Ireland v Poland and all of Israel v Wales. In those games the stars shone, it’s a shame that the biggest star didn’t shine for us.