13 June 2010

FIFA Fan Fest (FFF), Rio de Janeiro

I went to the Rio de Janeiro FFF for the opening days of the Cup. The experience confirmed my long standing opinion that everything FIFA touches turns to shite.

FIFA, the Rio Prefeitura and D+ Produções have turned the public space of the beach into a place of individual consumption and social distinction through contrived territorialization. There are separate entrances for VIPs, who are entitled to entry into the “luxury boxes”. Of the 20,000 spectators permitted into the Fan Fest, 850 can hobnob with executives from Coca-Cola, Itaú, Soy, AmBev, Hyundai, and Emirates. Thus, 4.25% of the Fan Festing population can sit in a chair, or duck into luxury if it rains.

For those 850 people, there are 16 bathrooms, or one for every 53 people. For the 19,150 others, there are 150 bathrooms, one for every 128 people.

There are 200 private security guards working every day, all day. There are also 12 security cameras and an operations center. The area surrounding the FFF is militarized, but “light”, kind of like drinking a Coke Zero.
The following are not permitted on the beach: plastic bottles, cans, food, musical instruments and flags, bathing suits, people without shirts or with school uniforms. Choose your expletive. If you haven’t worked yourself into a fine lather by now, “entry will not be allowed to groups wearing clothes or objects advertising companies competing with those licensed by FIFA.” Que porra essa?

To enter the FFF, you have to show some kind of government sourced identification. Then you pass a pat down, then a bag search, then a metal detector. Then someone gives you a wrist band. Then you have to have your wrist band scanned. One of my friends was wrongly sent away because she had a camera! The FFF has taken up all of the parking along the Avenida Atlântica for the VIPs. The only mention of public transport in the FIFA documents is the Metrô, nothing about bus lines.

They’ve got a big screen, so what? The sound is so loud that you can’t get very close to it, so you might as well be at home or in a bar. At half-time, the speakers crank up to an ear splitting decibel, literally driving the fans away from the screen towards the consumption zone. There, you can find the “Sony 3D video experience” where a numbed crowd awaits to be fed even more visual stimulae.  There's also AmBev beer (a barely swallowable R$4), and where there was once open sands has turned into the terra de ninguém. There’s nowhere to sit or congregate that isn’t on the sand in front of the screen. No one brought chairs in, though apparently they aren’t prohibited. 

The experience of a Brasil game at the Fan Fest will be, hopefully, radically different. The current level of interest  is confirming Juca Kufuri's assessment in this month's Brazilian edition of Le Monde Diplomatique, that "Brasil não é o pais de futebol."
 I have yet to go to one of the free shows that are part of the FFF, I imagine it's pretty cool. There's a show every night during the Cup, with some pretty big names, whatever that means. In fact, spending a whole day at the Fan Fest will be a fun adventure that I am looking to undertake with my dad this coming week. 

For those following the World Cup on a tactical level, www.zonalmarking.net is an indespensable resource. 

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