By Jonathan Shannon
Conde Nast Traveler
It's always a good time when one of these national soccer teams are playing. Watch the World Cup with these fantastic fans, ideally in their home country. From Brazil’s wild, samba-dancing bunch to Germany's "fan mile," we track down the nations that take World Cup partying very seriously.
The supporters of Brazil are renowned as a passionate, samba-dancing bunch -- fitting for a country that has produced some of the most dynamic footballers of all time. After the calamity of its stunning loss in the 1950 World Cup final in Brazil (a national tragedy dubbed "the Maracanazo") expect a party that lasts for days if Brazil wins the tournament this year.
You'll see supporters of the "Oranje" coming a mile away, decked out head to toe in -- what else -- orange. Catch Orange Fever with hundreds of thousands of other fans in Amsterdam's Museum Square. More than 100,000 watched the Dutch lose the 2010 final to Spain on one of Europe's biggest screens. But they’re not sore losers: 700,000 people flooded the streets of Amsterdam to welcome their team home.
Supporters of the Azzuri, as the Italian team is known, are a committed bunch with a flair for the dramatic (think firecrackers and actual flares). They also boast the most historic fan zone -- the Circus Maximus in Rome. In 2006, an estimated 200,000 watched Italy win the World Cup in ancient environs, then marched through the city to a symphony of car and vespa horns, dancing fully clothed in the Eternal City’s fountains.
While South Africa won't be at the 2014 World Cup, we can't ignore their fans -- mostly because as hosts in 2010 they brought the vuvuzela (as well as the kuduzela and momozela) to the world's attention. The colorful supporters, decked out in oversized glasses and decorated miner’s helmets called makarapas, made a relentless buzzing sound blowing on their plastic horns.
Some eyebrows were raised when Japan and South Korea got to co-host the 2002 World Cup, but the way in which both nations got into the spirit shocked and delighted everyone. Honors of making this list must go to South Korea, who made a run to the semi-finals, with supporters of the Reds taking to the streets in unprecedented numbers: 4.27 million came out to watch the defeat of Italy in the quarterfinals.
The German nation came out in force to make the 2006 World Cup (held in Germany and Poland) one to remember. The tournament debuted fan zones -- huge outdoor screens for supporters without tickets to the stadium -- with Berlin's fan mile stretching from the Brandenburg Gate to the Siegessäule (Victory Column). The fan mile is back this year and Deutschland is stronger than in 2006. It's worth keeping an eye on last-minute flight deals; you could be partying with the eventual winners.
The luck of the Irish never seems to hold for the Emerald Isle's soccer team, but it doesn’t dampen the spirits of the Green Army. The fans won FIFA's Fair Play Award in 1998 for their sporting behavior during the World Cup qualifying playoff against Belgium in 1997 (which they lost). But little tops their reaction to a 4-0 drubbing at the hands of Spain in Euro 2012. They led a rousing 15-minute singalong to "The Fields of Athenry" to end the match -- even the Spanish fans joined in.
With their penchant for face paint -- lots and lots of face paint -- Ghana's World Cup fans certainly stand out and make plenty of noise. They’re also notable for the numerical superiority of supporters. In the 2010 World Cup the whole continent rallied behind the team before its quarterfinal match against Uruguay. If Ghana had won, it would have become the first African nation to reach the semifinal stage -- and it came within a hair's breadth of succeeding.
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