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Coral Gables Museum’s World Cup Soccer exhibit celebrates Brazil

Estádio Nacional Mané Garrincha in Brasília.
Estádio Nacional Mané Garrincha in Brasília.
© 2014 George Leposky

In a tribute to the 2014 FIFA World Cup soccer tournament in Brazil, the Coral Gables Museum has mounted a fascinating exhibit featuring the 12 Brazilian cities and stadiums chosen to host the matches.

Mannequins in soccer clothes at exhibit entrance
© 2014 George Leposky

The World Cup matches begin June 12 with 32 competing national teams, and culminate in the final game on July 13, but at the museum the memory will linger on through the summer. The exhibit opened June 5 and runs through September 14. In addition, the museum will present an extensive schedule of programs about Brazil, soccer, and stadiums (including the proposed Miami stadium for which retired soccer star David Beckham is seeking a site).

FIFA (which stands for Fédération Internationale de Football Association) selected Brazil as the 2014 host country in 2007, giving the hosts a scant seven years to build or refurbish the 12 stadiums to meet FIFA’s requirements. Everything should be ready despite some significant setbacks, including a crane collapse in 2013 that killed two workers during construction at São Paulo’s stadium.

The tournament will draw tens of thousands of visitors to Brazil and capture the attention of millions more watching on TV around the world. For many, it’s an opportunity to learn more about a nation that is vast and yet surprisingly little-known outside its borders.

With a population in excess of 202.6 million, Brazil is the largest country in South America and sixth-largest in the world. (By comparison, the United States population, the world’s fourth-largest, is 318.9 million.)

Brazil occupies 47 percent of the South American continent. With an area of 3,287,597 square miles, it’s only about 13.5 percent smaller than the United States, which has 3,794,101 square miles.

Cities and stadiums

The 12 cities and their stadiums are:
• Estádio Mineirão in Belo Horizonte
• Estádio Nacional Mané Garrincha in Brasília
• Arena Pantanal in Cuiabá
• Arena da Baixada in Curitiba
• Estádio Castelão in Fortaleza
• Arena da Amazônia in Manaus
• Arena das Dunas in Natal
• Estádio Beira-Rio in Porto Alegre
• Arena Pernambuco in Recife
• Estádio do Maracanã in Rio de Janeiro
• Arena Fonte Nova in Salvador
• Arena Corinthians in São Paulo

While some of these cities have international renown, others will be unfamiliiar to many exhibit visitors. Fortunately, the well-written display texts will tell you a lot about all of these places. Each city’s profile includes a dash of geography, history, and current architectural, commercial, and cultural highlights. Also noted is each city’s soccer culture, and a detailed description of its stadium construction or reconstruction, including innovation and sustainability aspects.

Outstanding photos of the host cities and their stadiums accompany each text. Some displays also include architectural drawings and models. In addition, the exhibit contains videos, display cases with signed team jerseys and other soccer artifacts, and a foosball (table soccer) game.

The plaza outside the exhibit hall has been transformed into a soccer pitch, complete with goals. It will be open for a free public viewing of the opening day match, which pits Brazil against Croatia, at 4 PM on Thursday, June 12, on a large LED TV screen. A similar gathering will watch Brazil and Mexico play at 3 PM on Tuesday, June 17.

The Coral Gables Museum is at 285 Aragon Avenue in downtown Coral Gables. It is open Tuesday through Sunday.

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