Tonight, the soccer team Corinthians (the Sao Paulo equivalent of the Raiders) is playing to an audience of - silence.
Instead of being known for weed and lowriders, Corinthians fans are known for their wildly loyal fan base. A fan base that whose loyalty and enthusiasm has at times reached violent heights. Average Corinthians games are staffed by a full police squad with German shepherds and batons, but last week, a Corintians fan's wild antics accidentally killed a 14 year old boy at a game in Bolivia.
Although the legal case is still in limbo, the South American FIFA authorities have metaphorically slapped Corinthians on the wrists by denying them the possibility of having an audience. The Corinthians audience is elephant weight of their brand. Without them, they lose the adoration that transforms them into demi gods, and they become just simple soccer players.
Watching them play on TV, I realize - this is an effective punishment for them. It's a gaping visual absence, those empty seats. And for a team defined by cheering, silence is somehow humiliating for them. When Corinthias score goals, they hear the crushing roar of..no one.