It’s clear to two SEC girls that the passion of sports cannot be rivaled. Both of us attend the University of Georgia, so we know how intense grudge matches are between fans of American football. What we didn't know, however, is how tame the passion for our brand of football seems in comparison to the raw emotion of fútbol.
On May 28, we experienced the emotional journey of a soccer game as Mexico took on Paraguay at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta during the Mexican National Team U.S. Tour. But before the match started, we got the chance to share in the celebration with fans at the Fútbol Fiesta fan activation.
Major sponsors, including The Coca-Cola Company, set up various activation stations that provided fun and engaging ways to show team pride. Our all-inclusive fan experience began at the Coca-Cola booth, which featured a video game station, an interactive rhythmic drum circle, a goal-kicking station and a sample bar featuring Coca-Cola Trademark products. Every station was active throughout the pre-game festivities. Some even had fans waiting in lines just to participate.
After taking a lap around the Coca-Cola station, we stopped by POWERADE to continue the fun. The POWERADE activation site featured a sample bar, another goal-kicking game, a huddle photo station and a “Just a Kid” merchandising tent with a second photo booth. The “Just a Kid” photo-op background allowed fans to rep their home cities using magnetic letters. Fans seemed to particularly love striking a pose with their friends and families at this station.
We were also lucky enough to be a part of the POWERADE on-field experience and journey with other fans to the field to watch the players warm-up. Even before the game started, we could feel the energy and anticipation of the entire crowd. Fans continued to trickle into the stadium, painting the bleachers in a sea of green, white and red.
Then we headed toward the front of the crowd to take our spots in some of the best seats in the house. We were so close that we didn’t even have to use the zoom on our cameras. The U.S. national anthem played over the speakers and fans all around stood with their hands over their hearts and sang along.
The next moment we realized that almost everyone in the stadium was rooting for Mexico as barely a soul joined in to sing the Paraguay national anthem. But when the first cord of the Mexico national anthem played, the entire stadium cheered before joining in to proudly sing the song of their homeland.
And with that, the game took off. The energy of the crowd never died as wave after wave of the wave continued to circle around the bleachers. Fans laughed and cheered and cried as Mexico battled Paraguay, scoring the only goal of the game in the first half. At the end of halftime, we received another surprise when we learned that the fans’ love for Coca-Cola had caused at least two concession stands to run out of fountain drinks!
Through the emotion of it all, we both realized that soccer fans love their team and their Coca-Cola. The culture of fútbol is one of family, friendship, brotherhood and pride. Fans are proud to wear their team names, win or lose, and no matter what, the passion and love for the game always shines through. This once-in-a-lifetime experience could not have been possible without the support of Coca-Cola. Thank you for opening our eyes to the universal culture that is fútbol.
Emily Goodhart and Ananda Costa are summer interns at The Coca-Cola Company.