31 Dec. 1997
Vasco da Gama club fans gaze skyward towards fireworks prior to the Brazilian national championship match at Rio de Janeiro's Maracana, the world's largest soccer stadium. Often fans arrive at the stadium more than three hours prior to game time, to special sections that lead their team on with the pounding of Samba melodies. Built in 1950 as the main venue for the World Cup, Maracana has enough space for approximately 150,000 fans, and is revered in Brazil as soccer's "holy ground." These fans cheered Vasco da Gama on to the national title over Palmeiras.