sao paulo soccer

The Brazilian team has the most wins in the history of the World Cup. (Photo: Getty Images)

Health + Fitness

A Soccer Fan’s Guide to São Paulo: The Birthplace of Brazilian Soccer

It’s no wonder that futebol is Brazilians’ favorite sport. With five titles, the verde-amarela (the green and yellow) is the national team with the most wins in the history of the World Cup.

In addition, the country has witnessed the birth of internationally renowned players such as Bebeto, Ronaldo, Roberto Carlos and, of course, “O Rei” Pelé. And it all started on April 14, 1895… in São Paulo.

After studying in the United Kingdom for 10 years, Charles Miller, a descendant of British immigrants, returned home with two soccer balls under his arm, becoming the father of Brazilian soccer, and the organizer of the first match ever registered in the South American giant.

Although it was only practiced by the upper classes at first, it quickly gained traction. Today, it’s so popular that it’s even the central theme of a spectacular museum.

Museu do Futebol

Within the Pablo Machado de Carvalho Municipal Stadium, also known as Pacaembú Stadium, the Museu do Futebol occupies an area of 22,600 square feet, and is one of the most visited museums in the country. The permanent exhibition is divided into 15 rooms that, with a huge technological display, seek to make the visitor understand why soccer is more than just a sport in Brazil.

It’s rewarding to find that there is even an area dedicated to women’s soccer. It also houses other spaces for temporary exhibitions and a library with over 4 thousand titles. The Museu do Futebol opens from Tuesday to Sunday from 9 in the morning to 5 in the afternoon and na terça-feira (on Tuesday), admission is free.

sao paulo soccer
The Museu do Futebol is one of the most visited museums in the country. (Photo: Paola Quintana Vera)

Home to Corinthians, Palmeiras and São Paulo

Three of the four teams in Brazil with the most followers (the other one is Flamengo de Rio de Janeiro), are based in the city of São Paulo. In the whole state there are over 100 clubs but this trio is the one that stands out for the number of titles and fans.

The stadiums in which they play are, respectively, Corinthians Arena, Allianz Park and Morumbi. For travelers who love the most practiced sport in the world, attending a match in one of these three soccer houses will prove an unparalleled experience.

sao paulo soccer
Fans of the verde-amarela. (Photo: Getty Images)

Soccer Beyond the Field

Fans that don’t go to the stadiums proudly wear their team’s jersey to watch the match with friends in a boteco, as traditional bars serving typical Brazilian food and cold beers are called.

Two local favorites are São Cristovão and Boteco São Bento. The former is located in Vila Madalena, the city’s bohemian neighborhood. Its walls are decorated with posters, t-shirts, bunting and photos with a common motif: soccer. Both national and international matches are broadcast on the establishment’s screens.

The latter has three branches, the most beautiful is in Itaim Bibi, one of the capital’s luxurious districts. It has three screens, the central consisting of six LED panels, which allows you to enjoy the matches in high definition. Here the cocktails are a bit more glamorous and it’s advisable to order some of the exotic caipirinhas on the menu. The spicy mango one is unmissable.

To eat something representative of the moment, set your sights on the dadinhos de tapioca, a fried snack made with tapioca, cheese and milk, or the bolinhos de bacalhau, croquettes stuffed with a mixture of cod, mashed potatoes, onion and parsley.

sao paulo soccer
Pair the bolinhos de bacalhau with a cold cerveja (beer). (Photo: Getty Images)

The Meeting Point

If any of the local teams, or the national team, face off in an important duel, the celebration party par excellence takes place in the Paulista Avenue. Fans and revelers alike meet to dance, sing and toast the victory of the team in question. If you’re in the city when there’s a medium or large win, don’t miss out on joining the celebration.

During June and July 2019, Brazil will host the America’s Cup, the oldest soccer tournament in the world. Two of the six venues will be stadiums in São Paulo, so the city will breathe soccer during the 24 days of the tournament. And knowing the Brazilians, surely for many days following the final whistle.