13 – Football fans

Escrito em 30/08/2022
Felipe Macchiaverni

In the beginning was the verb: to twist. Sports writers of the 1920s are credited with fixing the word torcedor (fan). The root of the word Torcedor, which literally means (Twister), Torcedor which in Portuguese is the word for Fan, refers to the observation of the behavior of spectators in the stands of belle époque stadiums, with the act of women twisting handkerchiefs, or gloves, at decisive moments of the matches, twisting the object in their hands and also the whole body.

Modernists such as Mário de Andrade and Guilherme de Almeida, among others, became interested in football and went to watch matches in stadiums. The crowd of fans provided an exciting atmosphere and, more than once, these writers dedicated chronicles to the narration of experiences lived in the stands. The crowd was made up of artists of modernism as an emblem of popular culture in the urban environment. In turn, photographers such as Thomaz Farkas, at Pacaembu stadium, and José Medeiros, at Maracanã stadium, were excellent portraitists of the faces and reactions of these fans during the matches.

These monumental public stadiums symbolize the height of the sport's popularity in the country, especially between the 1940s and 1980s. In the 21st century, stadiums underwent profound changes and were transformed into arenas, under the argument of comfort and safety, and with the aim of hosting international tournaments organized by FIFA. Capacity to host fans decreases, tickets are more expensive and less favored fans find it difficult to follow their club of choice in the multimedia and spectacular arenas.

The following conclusion is drawn: football, elitist in its origins, which had become professional and massified in the mid-twentieth century, is back to making its regular fans elitist again. What is the place, today, for the popular character of football and for the celebration of the fans in these arenas?


2, 3, 7 e 8

Shots of Hungarian photographer Thomaz Farkas from the stands of Pacaembu and its fans in the 1940s. In one of the photos, children can be seen watching the match outside the stadium, through the cracks in the bars. Photograph: Thomaz Farkas | Instituto Moreira Salles – IMS.

1, 5 e 6

Photographic record of the public in the first phase of football history in the country, in the 1910s and 1920s. In the photos taken at Laranjeiras Stadium, men and women can be seen dressed according to the etiquette of the time. The absence of the use of the teams’ uniforms, whether in the stands, in the generals or in the stands, made many use the top hat, glove and scarf as a way of greeting players on the field. Photos: Unknown Author | Fluminense Football Club Collection.


Frontal scene of Geral do Maracanã, a popular area of the carioca stadium, where fans watched the matches standing, on the ground floor, close to the playing field.

Rio de Janeiro (RJ), Novo Estádio Mario Filho. Maracanã. Jogo Botafogo 2 x 2 Internacional. 1979. Photo of the old geral of the stadium. Photograph: Custódio Coimbra | IMS Collection.

9,10 e 11

Photograph: Staff Images | Allianz Parque / Divulgação

Photograph: Bruno Fioravanti | Allianz Parque / Divulgação

Photograph: Edu Santana | Allianz Parque / Divulgação


The arenas, built mostly for the 2014 World Cup, were reserved for football fans considered VIPs, who watch the matches in comfortable staterooms, as in these photos of Allianz Parque, belonging to the WTorre company, under the use of Sociedade Esportiva Palmeiras.



Documentary by filmmaker Geraldo Sarno, produced for Rede Globo de Televisão in 1972, in celebration of the 50th anniversary of the 1922 Modern Art Week. In it, the film begins on the outskirts of the Municipal Theater, interviewing people on the streets about their familiarity with “modern art”. The footage also features fans at a football stadium, who are interrogated about their familiarity with the Week.



Excerpt from an episode of the Globo Shell program Special Semana de Arte Moderna (1972), by Geraldo Sarno. Duration: 2min32s

Video: Globo Shell Especial | Arquivo Globo