Three days was all I needed to find a window of opportunity to get to Brazil for World Cup 2014. The 12-hour flight down, and 24-hour trek home, were totally worth it as the experience of attending a World Cup game is just beyond comparison.
On my first day, I was a tourist in Curitiba. I met a wonderful local woman who was playing music in the hotel bar when I arrived, and she recommended I do the bus tour. Being the city girl I am, I was hesitant because it felt like a pretty inauthentic way to spend my day. Buuuut since I was in the city for a day alone, I hopped on board. And I was so thankful I did.
Linha Turismo makes the city sights easily accessible since they’re pretty spread out across the metropolitan area. So with the tourist bus you can reach them all really easily. And, since there were so many soccer fans from around the world in town, I made a ton of friends throughout the day.
— Amanda Vandervort (@vandey01) June 19, 2014
The next day, I was a fan. My one and only match was Honduras vs. Ecuador, and I was pumped to see four MLS players on the pitch! Before the match, I wandered around outside the stadium and took some photos of the atmosphere. Ecuador was there in full force: Honduran fans a much smaller group for sure.
— Amanda Vandervort (@vandey01) June 20, 2014
Inside the stadium was incredible. Loud, passionate fans who didn’t stop singing and chanting for 90+ minutes. Neither team advanced from the Group Stage, but given the passion and energy of the fans, I honestly could have thought I was at the World Cup Finals.
Saturday was an open day for me, with a flight out of Curitiba later that night (I needed to be back in NYC to work USA vs. Germany on Sunday). So when an invitation to pop up to Rio and see my friend Alex Stone at FIFA hit my inbox, I couldn’t say no. Surprisingly, flights between cities in Brazil were super easy and inexpensive to secure. So at 6am the next morning I was on my way North for a quick 8-hour stint.
Rio was absolutely breathtaking. With rocky cliffs and stunning hillsides, to the beautiful beaches and welcoming people, this city is just without comparison. Not many cities are on my must-go-back list, but this one is, for sure.
I was also lucky to spend time at the FIFA Headquarters in Rio. Their Digital HQ was built at the end of Copacabana Beach. Here’s a write-up by Sam Laird over at Mashable who describes the set-up far better than I ever could.
For the World Cup, FIFA has no fewer than 68 members of its digital team stationed in Brazil. A dozen editors are stationed at each of the tournament’s 12 venues, and 12 photographers are fanned out across the country as well. The remaining dozens of programmers, writers, photographers and strategists work from the seaside Forte de Copacabana here in this iconic city that will host the World Cup final on July 13.
FIFA publishes digital content — via its websites, official app and social channels — for fans in six languages: English, Spanish, French, Portuguese, German and Arabic.
With many of the digital workers gathered in one place at the Forte for the World Cup — an extremely rare occurrence, since they usually work from posts around the globe — the team’s workspace resembles the tournament itself. Teams who work in different languages gather at their respective pods of desks, and national flags hang from the walls.
In all, my trip to Brazil was an absolutely incredible three days! But with so many demands on our team at Major League Soccer during the World Cup (uhm, we kind of crushed it –> scroll to the bottom), it was a very tough time to make this trip happen. But thanks to my awesome team, and the support of my peers and coworkers, I was able to make it work.
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— Amanda Vandervort (@vandey01) June 21, 2014