One of an estimated 500,000 fans who traveled to South America for the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil, NYU Abu Dhabi Assistant Director of Athletics Florencia Caro was in her element. A football fan since childhood, Caro grew up a mere 10 blocks from El Monumental, Argentina's biggest stadium and home to River Plate, her local team. "We could always hear the wave of sound roaring from the crowds after every goal on any given Sunday afternoon," she said.
Rooting for Argentina along with thousands of her compatriots, Caro was in the stands for three matches: Argentina vs. Bosnia in Rio de Janeiro, France vs. Switzerland in Salvador, and Argentina vs. Nigeria in Porto Alegre. "We saw 15 goals, including three by Messi!" she said.
Although Argentina won both matches by one goal, Caro was most excited by the Argentina vs. Nigeria game. "We were already qualified past the group stages," she explained, "but a win against Nigeria assured us the top spot in our group."
Surrounded by enthusiastic Argentinean fans who occupied the majority of the stands, Caro felt firsthand the electricity in the atmosphere, both in the stadium and throughout Brazil itself. "It was extremely lively and positive," she said. "Imagine, thousands of people from all over the world wearing their team jerseys or flags as capes."
In addition to experiencing the World Cup, Caro visited some of Brazil's most famous sites, including the Christ the Redeemer statue and Copacabana beach. For her, it was a once-in-a-lifetime trip. "Being from Argentina where football is a nationwide passion, it was great to experience the world's biggest football tournament in a country equally as passionate," she said.
While Caro continues to root for Argentina, she took a diplomatic stance when asked to predict who might win. "I believe that each of the final teams are strong contenders," she said. "But if all goes well, hopefully it will be Argentina taking home the trophy."