Los Altos High School graduate Allie Miller said she’s suffered from the “Brazilian blues” since returning home from the World Cup last week.
While many fans viewed the 2014 FIFA World Cup from their homes, Miller and her boyfriend Nick Eppers spent two weeks in Rio de Janeiro and Curitiba watching the international soccer competition.
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While in Rio, Miller (class of 2004) attended two games and saw several others in the FIFA Fan Zone. Located on Copacabana beach, the fan zone features a Jumbotron-size TV screen that allows thousands of spectators to watch the tournament from their beach chairs.
“The ideal vacation has a beach and a sporting event,” said Miller, a former high school standout in volleyball and track who competed in the latter at UCLA.
Miller said the fans – particularly the Brazilians – took pride in their teams.
“Brazilian fans are so proud,” she said. “Even if they weren’t into soccer, they still had their (team) shirts, and taxi drivers had TVs to watch the games.”
Despite concerns about security in the country, Miller said police – some in riot gear – and security guards “managed huge crowds well.” Inside the soccer stadiums, security forces checked bags and used metal detectors, according to Miller.
“We both had our eyes open and alert, but everything went really well … it was all very friendly” she said.
Even though Miller did not get to watch Team USA play live – most World Cup tickets were dispensed through a lottery – she made sure to “always have a USA flag and song” to root on her team.
Miller did, however, get to watch world-renowned player Lionel Messi score the game-winning goal in Argentina’s 2-1 victory over Bosnia and Herzegovina. She and Eppers attended the game between Iran and Nigeria as well.
Miller encountered “tons of U.S. fans” wherever she went as well as fans from “every country and flags from Nigeria down to Ecuador,” she said.
The trip was the “experience of a lifetime,” she added.