Confession: I have limited interest in football (soccer). Scratch that. I have zero interest in football. I pretend to pay some interest when my son starts going on about Arsenal, his favourite team but, only because I am being polite. Besides, I am good at maintaining eye contact and pretending to be not bored out of my gourd from my days as a corporate lawyer.
When Leo my Sao Paulo tourist guide from FlaviaLiz suggested we see Estado do Pacaembu and its Football Museum because Brasilians are crazy about football, I figured I would whizz in and out. It was such a great museum, I was actually in there for 2 hours.
The Pacaembu Stadium was built in 1940. It is the only Sao Paulo football stadium not associated with a specific football team.
The Corinthians, a local team that either you love or hate (along the lines of Arsenal or Chelsea in London), used to play their games at Pacaembu. The Corinthians have now moved to their own stadium, the former 2014 World Cup Stadium in the city. No one should be surprised that there were allegations of corruption levelled at FIFA as well as Brasilian government entities after this cozy little transfer occurred.
Brasil is the only country to ever have played in every World Cup. I thought the British were gung-ho about football but Brasilians take it to a whole other level.
The Football Museum
The Football Museum is built under the bleachers of Pacaembu Stadium.
The game of football was only brought to the country in 1894. The father of Brasilian football is a Charles Miller, an Anglo-Scottish-Brasilian who had been sent to boarding school in England and returned to Brasil with two footballs in his luggage and a copy of the rules.
You are welcomed to the museum by Pele, the Brasilian player many people credit as the best player of all time.
Reasons Why The Football Museum is Captivating
There is a room devoted to the 25 best Brasilian players referred to as the baroque angels and whose holograms appear in a display of light and sound. The players are described in religious terms as ‘angels whose wings transport them through space to the cathedral where their inventiveness, the poetry and the magic of the game is worshipped.” OK, then.
There is a cool room where you can listen to what a full stadium sounds like if you are a player on the pitch.
Football is all about stats. The museum has lots of statistics which unhelpfully are in Portuguese. However, with my limited knowledge of Spanish I could translate quite a few of them.
Displays show how football has changed over the years from the shoes to the balls.
My favourite exhibit was a room dedicated to all of the World Cups every played. It shows the year, where it was played, who won, the highlights of the games and the historical, social and cultural context in which it was played.
There are lots of football artefacts sprinkled throughout the Museum, such as this football shirt signed by all the players of the Brasilian 2014 world cup team.
My Opinion of the Football Museum
There is a fair bit of explanation easily understood and geared towards children as well as interactive games. Of course, it helps if your children speak Portuguese.
I found the biggest (and really only) issue with this museum is its complete lack of English translations. This museum could have been so much better if it was more English-speaker friendly. If this museum had some English translations, my children could have spent an entire day here.
I actually found the lack of English in tourist venues a problem throughout Sao Paulo. Many of the visitor destinations are only in Portuguese (as well as the official tourist brochures). For a city that wants to be a world-class destination (and has the capacity to be one), their sites really need to be more multilingual.
My kids loved the interactive aspects of the museum but the lack of English translation meant that large parts of the museum that they would have liked was beyond their understanding.