Saturday, October 15, 2011

Museu do Futebol "GOL"

This morning, Time Irado set out to tour the heart and soul of Sao Paulo (actually all of Brazil). We took a taxi over to the Museu do Futebol, which in English is the Soccer Museum. Let me preface the blog post by saying that I have been to various Hall of Fame museums for U.S. sports including the National Football League (NFL) located in nearby Canton, Ohio, and this museum puts it to shame. From start to finish the museum was impressive containing innovative and interactive technology that engaged each visitor. That included us, despite not understanding Portuguese, which most of the exhibit media was in. The overall feeling of the museum left me wanting to take up Soccer despite having no real interest in the sport since the age of 10.

Estadio Municipal, home of the Museu do Futebol

Upon entering the museum visitors quickly see the history and background of soccer in Brazil. There are several stories regarding how soccer was brought to Brazil, but the most widely believed attributes soccer being brought from England by Charles William Miller. He was born in Brazil in 1874, but later  went to England for his studies. Later when he returned to Brazil in 1894, he brought the art of soccer and the soccer equipment. The first official soccer match at Brazil was played in São Paulo at the Várzea do Carmo in the year of 1894. The Brazil soccer history has been enriched by the skillful play of the Brazilian soccer players in World Cup matches, resulting in five World Cup titles. Brazil is also the host of the 2014 World Cup Games so the buzz about soccer here is at an all time high. Even with my limited knowledge of the game, I know the history of the great Brazilian players such as Pele, Ronaldo, and most recently Rondaldinho.
Continuing around the first level of the museum, it was evident that the museum was designed thinking of those that have visual, hearing, or other physical disabilities. There are several braille inscriptions, including a path on the floor that has a raised pattern signaling to those that cannot see, where certain exhibits were located, where the doors were, and how to get to elevators. This museum was build to give a full sensory experience, even if you did not have full use of all of your senses. Throughout the lower level, there were hundreds if not thousands of old signs promoting the game and soccer related events that lead toward the second level. Not an inch of wallspace was wasted.

Soccer history covers every inch of the walls

The second level seemed to be rather disappointing as we saw a couple models of stadiums and some toy figurines of players, only to discover later they were designed to provide the visual landscape of the stadium to those who were blind. Upon turning the corner and entering a darkroom behind a large curtain, the true magic began. There were about two dozen screens with hologram images of former Brazilian greats. Each seemed to jump off the screens at you as you walked through the dim-lit room. See for yourself below.

Brazilian soccer greats are immortalized via holograms in the Museu do Futebol
The room was wired with unbelievable surround sound that would make any American jealous that their "mancave" just would not stack up. Continuing into the next room, our visual and audio senses were at full alert with interactive electronic screens where you could select several historical plays in Brazilian soccer to relive here at the Museum. We watched as Pele scored goal after goal and also saw local championship matches between the Corinthians and Sao Paulo. Lining the outside of the room were stations where you could slide a dial to one of ten great plays and here the play called live by the radio broadcasters. Radio played a large role in soccer here in Brazil similar to the early years of baseball in American, by reaching those without televisions. Each play finished with the familiar "GOL" call.

Leaving the room with the television and radio plays, you exit a door and head underneath the stands of the stadium in an area that had a rather musty smell. You head out over a walkway and you realize that there is dirt below you and just when you are wondering what is in the room, the roar of the crowd comes over the speakers. There are also about a half dozen 50' Projection screens that light up with the crowds of the Brazilian National Team, and the local teams from Sao Paulo. There are four major teams here including the Sao Paulo Futbol Club, Corinthians, Palmeiras, and Santos. Despite the smell, this room was my favorite. The speakers were turned up loud and the you could feel the raw power of the Brazilian soccer crowd. This was just like home for me, as each Saturday in the fall, more than 106,000 people fill into Ohio Stadium (The Horseshoe) in Columbus, Ohio to cheer on The Ohio State Buckeyes Football team.

106,000 Ohio State fans on a Saturday in November

Brazil National Team fans
See the resemblance? It was amazing, similar to college sports back home, the local teams are adorned with their team colors but almost even more in a majestic way. The local crowds at the games around Sao Paulo are very particular about the colors they wear and you should not get caught wearing the wrong colors at a local game. Like a scene out of Harry Potter where the four houses "Gryffindor, Slytherin, Ravenclaw, and Hufflepuff" are gathered in the eating room, the colors, flags, crests and trinkets are all showing allegience to their team. The crowd noise was amplified by the surround sound in the museum but it was awe-inspiring.

Moving from this room, we entered another room that was fit for Harry Potter, with hundreds of double sided pictures in gold frames showing more than just the history of the game, but the history of society in Brazil. You could see everything from race relations to social classes and how soccer brought together a nation that was comprised of so many nationalities. Each picture frame could be spun to see another picture that continued through the storied transformation of society and soccer.

Double sided picture frames line the walls of the room

After leaving the room of pictures, it was on to another impressive interactive room. I'm not sure what it's called but I will refer to it as the World Cup room. The room included bundles of televisions representing each World Cup since it started in 1930. The World Cup is held every 4 years similar to the Summer Olympics, but is scheduled 2 years apart from any Olympic games, giving fames the perfect supplement to the Olympic soccer matches. Each group of televisions and monitors showed events from each world cup, but also included world events from the era that transformed the games. For example, in the 2002 World Cup area, there were pictures that included information about the September 11th terrorist attacks in New York and other important events.

The history of the World Cup
Continuing through the museum we walked through areas that had information on the Women's sport, the origins of soccer (which many are not aware was something that armies used to play with the heads of their enemies!), and on the rising sports of Beach Soccer and Fute Volei. I have never seen or heard of Fute Volei (which is essentially Volleyball only using your head and your feet) but it was really great to see the videos of this sport that is rising in popularity and may be considered for an Olympic Sport. Near the end of the Museum there were foosball soccer games (Where Ryan and I dominated), an electronic game where the ball was digital but you used your feet to kick it, and a real soccer goal where you tried to kick it past a virtual goalie. There was even an opportunity to have your picture taken in front of the virtual goal after you scored, for a small fee of course! As you head down the stairs toward the exit and giftshop with all of the soccer apparel, Team Flags hang from the ceiling, showing you one last example of Brazilian Soccer Pride.

Overall, the Museum was very impressive and as previously stated, blows away other sports museums I have been visited. Perhaps the NFL, NBA, MLB, and the NCAA should visit the Museum for some ideas to better engage the public. Oh, and did I mention it was only $6BRL to get in? That is only about $3.75USD. Now that is what I would call a deal.

In case you don't have the money or the time to fly down to the Museum and see it for yourself. Below is a nice video to see some of it without leaving your house. Keep in mind no pictures are allowed inside so unless you plan to make the trip, you should check out the video! It's in Portuguese but you can visually see what the Museum has to offer, as well as understand how disabilities would not stop you from enjoying this high-tech center for soccer.


This Museum is rated "GOL".

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