By Neil Frankland
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
MELBOURNE, Australia _ The Super Bowl is a winter event, but in Rio de Janeiro, a mix of Brazilians and expatriates sweltered on a steamy night to celebrate the NFL championship game in their own way.
Among the fans jammed into Shenanigan’s Sports Bar, just two blocks from the city’s famed Ipanema beach, Brazilian Milena Lozano _ wearing a Patriots jersey emblazoned with Tom Brady’s No. 12 _ said she likes American football because it’s “more intellectual” than Brazil’s beloved soccer.
“It’s a little different dynamic than our soccer,” the 19-year-old said. “It’s a little more sophisticated than just go and score a goal.”
Similar get-togethers were going on in time zones around the world, as international fans of the uniquely American game got together to celebrate Super Bowl Sunday, even in a few places where it was already Monday.
Lozano and her friend Dandhara Grammatico watched their first Super Bowl last year, and this time they brought a group of friends for their first experience with the game. They witnessed Brady and the New England Patriots come back to beat the Seattle Seahawks 28-24.
“We’ve been waiting the whole year for this,” Grammatico said.
American Christian Grant, a graduate of the University of Southern California, said he was in Rio to visit his extended Brazilian family. His mother is from Brazil.
“As a USC guy, I love Pete Carroll to death,” he said. “But the first Super Bowl team I loved the best was the Patriots 2002 title _ Brady’s first. He’s a man’s man, and his wife is Brazilian _ Gisele (Bundchen).”
This year’s Super Bowl was broadcast live in 54 movie theatres throughout Brazil.
At the Sandals resort in St. John’s on the Caribbean island of Antigua, massive screens were set up beachside and a party planned for vacationers eager to watch the game. Even some of the Europeans visiting who know nothing about American football joined in the revelry.
In Tokyo, the start of the Super Bowl coincided with the Monday morning commute. That didn’t stop a large group of hardcore Japanese football fans from taking time off work as a boisterous gathering of about 200 crammed into a Hooters sports bar in the Akasaka business district to catch the game.
“I took the morning off work,” said New England fan Yoichi Okano. “I’m a former college player so I do this every year. There is nothing like the Super Bowl.”
Okano’s former teammate, Kaz Iijima, took it a step further by taking the entire day off.
“This only comes once a year, so it’s worth it,” Iijima said. “I’m a big Seattle fan, so it works out well being here with Yoichi.”
Sports fans, in Melbourne, Australia, still drowsy after watching Novak Djokovic claim his fifth Australian Open tennis title the night before, took time off work to settle into one of dozens of Super Bowl parties held at bars and in front of open air screens around the city, including an event in the downtown Docklands district touted as the “Ultimate Aussie Bowl Party” and hosted by former Seahawks wide receiver Terrell Owens.
In a country where rugby, cricket and Australian rules football dwarf the NFL in popularity, former Australian rules player-turned-NFL punter Ben Graham _ who played in the 2008 Super Bowl with the Arizona Cardinals _ was on hand at the Sporting Globe bar to help explain the nuances of the game.
AP Sports Writers Steve Wade in Rio de Janeiro, Tales Azzoni in Sao Paulo and James Armstrong in Tokyo contributed to this story.