Now that the World Cup is being held in Rio de Janeiro everything in this city seems to be about football. During our bike tours in Rio de Janeiro however, you'll constantly pass by places that have something to do with football, even if there is no World Cup going on. That makes cycling in Rio de Janeiro extra fun for football geeks.
These days, biking along Copacabana beach, you’ll see, close to one of our stops (the Copacabana Palace hotel) the location of the FIFA fan fest. There football supporters can view all matches on a large screen, along with football fans from other countries. In the surrounding bars plenty of drinks will be available.
To be honest, Copabanana beach always has been a place where football-loving Brazilians like to spend their time. The Carioca’s, like the inhabitants of Rio are called, bring their children to football schools on the beach. Many major football clubs in Rio de Janeiro, like Flamengo and Fluminense, have football schools on the beach. Besides that, Brazilians adore to play foot volleyball on the beach, a favorite pastime of the Carioca's.
Who cycles to the extension of Copacabana beach, will arrive in the small beachside neighborhood of Leme. Here you’ll find restaurant Sindicato do Leme, a restaurant focused on football fans. Here the walls are decorated with stylish black and white portraits of Brazilian football icons. In addition, there are plenty of television screens arranged, so it is always possible to watch football while you’re eating and drinking.
During our bike tour we pass by football club Botafogo, where the former Dutch international Clarence Seedorf has played football. The training field of the club is on top of a shopping mall in the middle of the city. If the first team trains there, supporters can easily walk in to watch. It's an odd location, a training ground on a rooftop, while roaring city traffic rages by.
The home of football in Rio de Janeiro is actually located at the lake, Lagoa, where we pass by with our Urban Tour and Lagoa Tour. Major football clubs like Flamengo, Vasco and Botafogo were originally rowing clubs. Their clubs were and still are located along the lake. Later on, after the British introduced football early 20th century in Brazil, the rowing clubs also adopted football.
Flamengo football club, for that matter, has remained faithful to its roots and is still located close to the lake. The club has its headquarters there, plus a huge store for its fans. The training ground of Flamengo is used by the Dutch national team in preparation for the World Cup.