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By Jewellord T. Nem Singh, Contributing Reporter

RIO DE JANEIRO – The 2010 International FIFA Fan Fest witnessed as many as 4.6 million people attending the World Cup quarter-finals over the weekend at various locations around the globe. On Copacabana Beach, the official FIFA site of Brazil, more than 20,000 Brazilians and foreigners came together to witness the country’s unsuccessful bid to win a place in the semi-finals against the Netherlands. The 31,000 square-meter beach area was close to capacity, and the area was filled with hospitality spaces provided by FIFA sponsors including Sony, Coca-Cola and Hyundai.

Fans celebrate at FIFA Fan Fest in Copacabana, photo by Eduardo Rubiano.

Berlin holds the record so far from all of this year’s Fan Fests, with 500,000 attendees last Saturday, July 3rd, when their team defeated Argentina, but it has proved a tremendous success for FIFA all over the world. Other locations with the temporary stadiums showing games on huge screens include Mexico City, Paris, Rome, Sidney and several South African cities.

Cariocas, Brazilians, and foreigners all came together in Copacabana to feel the vibrant spirit of the unrelenting passion for soccer and the unconditional support for the Brazilian team. Despite the scorching heat and the crowds people lined up from the moment the stadium opened at 9AM, followed by drinking, dancing, and even ziplining to demonstrate everyone’s enthusiasm for the game.

Scottish visitor Kate came to Rio de Janeiro for the first time to visit her dad and to watch the match; “Sunshine makes all the difference… but the ice cold beer is pretty good too,” she said of the occasion. Family and World Cup were two good reasons to come all the way to Rio de Janeiro and experience the unique way of celebrating soccer as a core element of Brazilian culture.

Fans look on in disbelief after Brazil are knocked out of the World Cup, photo by Eduardo Rubiano.

Rio de Janeiro’s Fan Fest also convinced those who have been touring Latin America to stop in Brazil and see the city and its lively atmosphere during World Cup season. With positive energy exuding from everyone and the strong Brazilian performance throughout the series, most people felt confident of Brazil’s chances of grabbing victory and taking one step closer to a sixth title.

One Bahian, Elena, who has been living in Rio de Janeiro for 36 years and in Copacabana for five years, came to watch every Brazil game and support her team whether they won or lost. “The energy in FIFA Fan Fest is extremely great, and with God’s help perhaps Brazil will win, hopefully 3-1 with an orange juice to cap the victory!” she joked.

During the first half, the atmosphere was confident after Brazil made such a strong start, with Robinho gracefully scoring their first and only goal, but as Holland took control,  unsurprisingly the energy died down on the beach.

“The dream is over,” espoused one woman in the sea of crying faces and disappointed hearts. For the first time, no samba music was playing near the beachfront. Now it is four years of waiting to again attempt their sixth championship win, and it would be a victory all the sweeter with the tournament taking place in Brazil, and the final at Rio’s Maracanã Stadium.

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