By Michela DellaMonica, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – FIFA sponsored “Fan Fest” events are meant to extend the World Cup festivities beyond the stadium and home television sets, bringing people together to watch matches in each of the twelve host cities in Brazil on large stages and screens built in landmark locations.
In Rio, the iconic Copacabana Beach in Zona Sul (South Zone) will be host to the FIFA Fan Fest creating a focal point for those unable to get to the Maracanã Stadium in person.
After the immense success of non-official public events at the World Cup in South Korea and Japan in 2002, FIFA decided to officially launch the concept of Fan Fests at the following tournament in Germany in 2006, also taking it to South Africa in 2010.
In addition to the nine South African host cities, another six cities around the world set up similar structures so that fans could watch the matches in 2010. Over six million football (soccer) fans attended the events in Berlin, Mexico City, Paris, Rio de Janeiro, Rome and Sydney.
“The Fan Fest in Rio in 2010 was a ton of fun and a man’s dream!” admits Martijn Verbeek, a Dutch native who has been living in Rio for five years. “The security was great, especially after the Netherlands win over Brazil. The weather was perfect also and I expect this year to be just as fun.”
In Rio de Janeiro, Copacabana beach will be again provide the Fan Fest location where it will offer free admission to a secure, family-friendly location where both local and international fans can watch World Cup matches. One of the most known and popular Brazilian beaches in the world, Copacabana, hosts big events, like beach volleyball competitions, in addition to the country’s most famous New Year’s Eve party.
“The main goal is to offer a place for everyone who loves football but who does not have tickets to watch the games. At the Fan Fests people can watch the matches and do a range of activities as a family. And what’s important is that it is free,” says Thierry Well, FIFA Marketing Director.
In an open statement during the Fan Fest round table in February, Well explains, “It would be easy for us to end arguments and allow the cities to charge an entry fee to cover their costs. But the idea is that it is free of charge so that everybody can go.”
The success of the Fan Fest concept in Brazil has been built upon the huge support of the event stakeholders, including the city of Rio, TV Globo and the Seven Fan Fest Sponsors. With it comes rules like mandatory use of TV Globo to be aired live and in its entirety, including all commercial breaks and sponsorship ads.
Not everyone is happy with the Fan Fest however as it contractually stipulates limitations on other outdoor viewing within a certain distance of the Fan Fest locations. “We have made an effort to slacken the requirements and we are also supplying all the host cities with the resources needed to hold the fest, such as the giant screens, audio equipment, fencing and bunting,” says Thierry Well of FIFA.
At present Recife is not planning to hold the Fan Fest citing security concerns. Lawyers representing the city of Recife, said that it will not be a breach of contract as, “there only exists the intention to host a FIFA Fan Fest, but failure to do so will not result in a fine or punishment.”