From Dreams to Tragedy: The Fire that Shook Brazilian Football (2024) s01e01 Episode Script


[dramatic music playing]
[boy 1] I looked over and saw smoke.
[muffled shouting]
I couldn't see anything,
and, God, something was happening!
[man 1] I realized
the situation was really bad.
A horrific scene.
[man 2, in Portuguese] A large fire is
happening at the Vulture's Nest right now.
[man 1, in English] Ever since that night,
I've had trouble sleeping.
[boy 2] Help! Fire!
I was furious with myself
for having taken him there.
[helicopter engine whirring]
[woman 2, in Portuguese]
Rio de Janeiro City Hall
closed the Flamengo Training Center.
[in English] They wouldn't have died
if the facilities were up to date.
[man 3] Wires were run without conduits.
Rough splices were made
without proper insulation.
There were not enough outlets or plugs.
We can see there is ample evidence
of general sloppiness.
[man 4] Was it the air conditioning?
An accident? Negligence?
We know the container was a problem.
[man 5] They knew it was precarious
but thought it was safe.
It certainly wasn't.
They were clearly negligent,
and they must be held accountable.
Technically speaking, this is a crime.
[quiet music plays]
[large crowd cheering and applauding]
[man 6] Becoming
a professional soccer player
is still the ultimate dream and ambition
for most young kids in Brazil.
[kids' shouts echoing]
[man 6] Say you have a child
who is eight or nine years old.
He plays well.
You can see he has the potential
to make it as a soccer player.
That child quickly becomes his family's
best hope for upward mobility.
[woman 3] Wendel loved soccer.
At five or six, he was sneaking out
of the house to play with the other kids.
Some days,
he'd sneak out three times or more.
We'd have to go find him.
He'd play all day in this soccer field.
If we weren't watching,
he'd run to the field.
[man 7] It's the dream of every
disadvantaged Brazilian kid, right?
Their parents watch the matches,
take the kids everywhere.
They dream
their kid will become a soccer player.
Why? To improve their kid's life
but also their own.
It's one of the few opportunities
you have in Brazil
to go from very poor to very rich.
[Saldanha] It's a responsibility
the child has to face
long before he's prepared for it.
So the dream is no longer just his.
It's become his family's dream too,
and now he's responsible for the family.
[spectators cheering]
[man 8] My family,
we are strictly Fluminense fans.
And Lêda's family are all Flamengo fans.
When Flamengo played Fluminense,
things got heated.
[dad] When Beno was born,
I gave him a Flamengo jersey.
I said over and over, "You're
a Flamengo fan. You're a Flamengo fan."
[Lêda] His grandfather was also a goalie
and always encouraged him.
He'd say that to be a good goalie,
you have to practice.
You must be the first one to arrive
and the last to leave.
You've gotta be very familiar
with the ball, to know it inside out.
Sleep with the ball.
[tense music plays]
[spectators yelling]
[man 1] When I was 11, a scout
from Cruzeiro in Belo Horizonte saw me
and said I was tall for my age.
He invited me
for a tryout at Toca da Raposa 1.
[boys chanting]
[Filipe] The day Cruzeiro picked me
was one of the best days of my life.
It had been my dream
since I was a little kid.
Even when I played at my small school,
I was already thinking
about something bigger,
of playing for a major club.
So when Cruzeiro picked me,
I was really happy.
[Saldanha] Youth players dedicate
their lives to soccer.
They give up their childhood for soccer.
They grow up with nothing except soccer.
From a very early age,
they're deprived of many things
that other kids experience growing up.
Of course, they do it because
they dream of being rich
and having a successful career,
but it's a very long road.
It's a very difficult road.
[cheering and applause]
[Filipe] When I left my hometown
to live in Belo Horizonte,
it was really hard at first.
I thought about giving up
because it was so hard.
I was lonely. I wanted to go back home.
But I never told my parents
or anyone else.
And every single day, I somehow found
the strength to keep pursuing my dream.
[man 9] "I have to go pro.
I have to meet the club's standards."
"I just have to tough it out."
And every day, they ask themselves
"Is it worth going through this
to be a professional athlete?"
[man 10] Out of all the kids
who play in the youth soccer leagues,
only about 1% of them will actually
go on to become professional athletes.
And among that 1%, 80% of those athletes
are paid minimum wage.
The truth is, in Brazil,
soccer sets you up for failure.
[woman 4] For Christian, soccer meant
he missed out on aspects of childhood.
Like going to parties,
and hanging out with his friends.
Christian, he's always been
a Flamengo fan. Always.
From the time he was a toddler
and first learned to play soccer,
he rooted for Flamengo.
And he was a very passionate fan.
He was spotted by two scouts.
One scout from Flamengo
and one from Fluminense.
For him, there was only one choice.
He completely ruled out Fluminense.
It's like he knew in his heart that
Flamengo was going to pick him, you know?
He was sure.
And then, when he passed the tryout,
well, I think it was
one of the happiest moments of his life.
He realized then
that his dream was actually coming true.
He was finally being given the chance
to play for the team he loved.
[Luxemburgo] Playing for Flamengo is
what most players aspire to do.
I trained at Botafogo,
went to Flamengo, then moved to Quintino.
I was there with Zico.
We used to live in Quintino.
The train from Quintino stopped
at the Central Station.
From there, I would take the bus to Gávea.
Whenever we passed by Maracanã, we'd say,
"One day. One day, we'll play there, man."
[samba music plays]
[crowd roaring]
Wearing the Flamengo jersey,
that was the dream.
In the '80s, Flamengo put together a team
of almost all local players.
It originated the motto
"We create aces at home."
That image is enormously popular,
not just with the Flamengo fans,
but to everyone in the country.
They are the top of the chain.
[Saldanha] Flamengo is an icon
of Brazilian soccer.
A symbol for everyone. For the world.
I I was a real fan.
I watched all the matches.
I was always in the stands.
Everything in my house was black and red.
I even named my dog named after the team.
[woman 5] Flamengo fans are never alone.
There's always a bunch of them.
[man 11] A huge fan base,
over 45 million people.
Flamengo is our reason to live.
They make you cry. They make you smile.
That's Flamengo.
Flamengo has always been
the people's club.
[music fades]
[Filipe] My first impression when I walked
through the gate at the Vulture's Nest
was that the training center was huge.
I hadn't imagined how big it would be.
It was a lot to take in.
[calm music plays]
The training center is amazing.
Flamengo is a powerhouse,
thanks to their decision
to invest in sending youth players
to the Vulture's Nest,
creating a deep bench
of young players for the future.
[man 5] If the Vulture's Nest is not Latin
America's most modern training center,
then it's second or third.
[Zico] I've visited many training centers.
The one for Chelsea,
in Barcelona, for PSG.
And let me tell you,
Flamengo's training center is
as good or better than any of them.
Today, professionals in all areas
of the sport want to work for Flamengo.
[woman 6] Who doesn't want
to be in a big club?
He said, "Mom, I feel good here."
"This is where I belong,
where I want to be."
I always said
that I wanted him to be happy.
So I let him choose.
We had invitations
for him to play from Vasco
Atlético, and Flamengo.
And he chose Flamengo.
[emotional music playing]
[Filipe] When they told me I made the cut,
the first thing I did was
get down on my knees
and give thanks to God.
I was very, very happy.
I called my parents to tell them.
We were all crying.
It was an incredible moment
I'll never forget.
[man 12, in Portuguese]
This is my friend Filipão.
He came late last year from Cruzeiro.
Tell me, what is it like
playing for Flamengo?
Man, playing for Flamengo feels amazing
because I never thought I'd make it.
It's a huge team
in Brazil and the Americas.
It's famous all over the world.
I'm very happy
to be a part of the Flamengo team.
[Fernanda, in English] Wendel played
for São Paulo for two years,
and then he was called up
to play for Flamengo.
[in Portuguese] It feels great.
Especially because Flamengo
has the biggest fan base.
Everyone dreams of playing
at Maracanã when it's full.
It's a great feeling. I can't explain it.
[Fernanda, in English] I always prayed
to Our Lady of Aparecida.
I asked her to comfort me,
to keep me from crying,
to help me understand
that this was his dream,
and that he was destined to play soccer.
You know,
like any mother prays for her child.
I wasn't praying because I worried
that something bad was going to happen.
If I'd thought
that something would happen,
I never would have let him go.
[Saldanha] Imagine a 14-year-old boy.
He gets taken to the bus station
or to the airport by his parents.
His parents say goodbye, they hug him,
maybe give him a quick kiss,
and then they say, "Go, son."
"There's a chance
Bernardo will go to Flamengo."
"What? Flamengo? Holy shit!"
It was his dream, right?
[Darlei] Yes, it was incredible.
We were so excited.
And so I took him there.
And then, when it was time to say goodbye,
I turned away and oh man.
I started crying.
I called an Uber
and got into the car, crying.
We arrived at the airport,
and I was still crying.
I came home crying.
I cried all day.
And I told Lêda, "Never make me take him
anywhere all by myself, ever again."
[emotional music plays]
[Marinho] When an athlete is chosen
by a major club,
usually, most of the clubs provide
housing for the athletes.
It's not easy being away from home,
from your family,
being on your own with no friends around.
[Salomão] For young athletes living
in their clubs,
it's very hard being away from home.
It's like their old lives,
the memories, the stories,
almost don't exist in this new place.
[Marília] I suffered in silence,
but I never said anything.
I guess you just get used to it, you know?
When he complained,
I said, "Do you want to come back?"
"No, Mom, I don't want to come back."
So I accepted it.
At first, I didn't want him to go.
I don't know why, but I never pictured
Arthur in the dorms. Never.
I was afraid he would need me,
and he'd call
and I wouldn't hear the phone.
[Filipe] We all lived there by ourselves,
far away from our friends and families.
But we became our own family.
-[in Portuguese] Come in.
-That's cool.
-Go. Choose your bed!
-Choose your bed!
-Take the top one! Fuck!
-It's mine!
[Darlei, in English] They quickly learned
to live all on their own, together,
without having us there, and without
the protection that parents give them.
-And that strengthened their friendship.
They started taking care of each other.
[in Portuguese] see you shine
Be it on land or sea ♪
Win ♪
Once Flamengo
Flamengo until we die ♪
In the race, it kills me
Mistreats me, overwhelms me ♪
Such a thrill in my heart ♪
[Andréia, in English] He said great things
about the Nest.
Even about where he was sleeping.
He never said anything bad
about the place to me,
and he never complained about his room.
But then, why would he? It was his dream.
The only thing he wanted was to be there.
I think that even if they had asked him
to sleep on the floor at the Nest,
he would've been totally fine with it.
-[man 13 chanting] Christian!
Christian! Christian!
-[in Portuguese] Holy shit!
Holy shit, Christian!
Fuck! Holy shit, Christian!
-[chanting] Christian! Christian!
-The best goalie in Brazil!
-[rhythmic clapping]
[Andréia, in English]
I didn't see him catch it.
When the shootout started,
I left the stands.
I couldn't watch. I only ran to hug him
after they had already won.
When Flamengo played Fluminense,
he saw himself as an important player.
He even gave interviews.
He said, "This is my moment."
"I can feel it. My luck is going to turn."
And it did.
[Christian, in Portuguese]
Future Christian, be sensible.
-Don't lose your essence. Be humble.
-[man] Yeah.
Keep it simple. Don't do anything
Be yourself, and don't change for anyone.
You will be someone.
[tense music plays]
[in English] We finally decided
we would go ahead and let him live there.
We talked it through,
and she wasn't convinced.
But you see,
there was a problem in our area.
It wasn't safe.
There was a lot of fighting going on.
Different communities were
at war with each other.
We were worried because sometimes,
he would get stopped by the police
because he was tall.
We thought he'd be better
off if he moved to the Nest.
[in Portuguese]
Now I'm going to bed, okay? ♪
[Andréia, in English] I was always
thinking, "Who is looking out for him?"
"How do I know he's obeying his curfew?
How do I know he's okay?"
I was the only one against it.
Against him living in the Nest.
For a long time, I asked myself
if the right thing to do
would have been to put my foot down,
say no and not let him go.
[thunder crashing]
[ominous music plays]
FEBRUARY 6, 2019
[door creaking]
[Filipe] I remember that Wednesday.
It was pouring rain in Rio.
It was coming down really hard,
and the power went out
at the training center for a few hours.
It was a terrible storm
with very high winds.
Trees got knocked down everywhere.
Several people were killed.
[horns blaring]
[reporter] The storm began
around 8:30 p.m. Wednesday evening.
The most affected areas are
to the south and west,
where we are seeing the biggest downpours.
[Marinho] Rio de Janeiro was hit
by a deluge.
The Vulture's Nest was flooded.
Everyone knows that when there's flooding,
water can create a short circuit
in the electrical lines.
[ominous music plays]
[echoing scraping]
[Filipe] That week,
they replaced an AC unit
that wasn't working right.
[Cristiano] Christian called me
one day and said,
"Dad, the AC unit caught on fire
in our bedroom, but it's okay."
"A technician came in and fixed it."
The city was in chaos.
The next day, there was footage
from the area of the Nest
of fallen electrical poles.
[boy 3] From the 6th to the 7th,
things were really complicated.
When I arrived at the gate
of the training center, the power was out.
FEBRUARY 7, 2019
[Filipe] I remember me and the guys
talking about Arthur's birthday.
It was coming up on the 9th. We were
gonna surprise him with a little prank.
Mess him up a little bit, you know?
Tease him.
[Marília] Arthur had big plans
for his birthday.
He talked about having
more than a hundred guests to the house.
I said, "How am I going to feed
all these people?"
Because, first of all,
they're all big eaters.
It would be very expensive.
I said, "Oh, God!"
But he wanted it so bad!
They were to be dismissed on Thursday,
but the social worker said, "Marília,
there's a tryout at the Maracanã
for the Flamengo-Fluminense match
coming up,
and they need to practice for the tryout."
So they had to stay.
[ominous music plays]
[Filipe] The container dorm was temporary.
There was a plan
for us to move to a building
that used to house the professionals.
The shipping container was
quite good, actually.
Everything was nice and clean.
The cleaning ladies came every day
to tidy up and help us out.
There were three bunks,
with a total of six beds.
In the evening, we
we were always playing around.
We'd wrestle each other
and kick the ball back and forth.
Do crazy dances and sing.
Just have fun,
you know, playing and laughing.
We all had a great time.
Everyone was so pumped to be there,
to be playing
for a club as big as Flamengo.
And we let ourselves get carried away
by how happy we were.
[laughter echoing]
Sometimes, I'd call my mom or dad
just to hear their voices
and get a taste of home.
And a lot of nights I laid awake,
thinking about going home.
And I cried.
Sometimes I cried myself to sleep.
But, as time went by, I got used to it.
I found a routine,
and I was able to relax.
Plus, I made a lot of friends there,
and that really helped me out a lot.
I never really worried about the fact that
I was sleeping in a shipping container.
The only thing on my mind
was that I was in Flamengo.
I was part of the team. I was lucky.
I was happy. I didn't care where I slept.
If they told me I had to sleep next to
a lawnmower, I'd do it gladly, you know?
Because I was playing for Flamengo.
[Darlei] I never went into the dorm,
but, for me,
everything seemed completely normal.
You know, when you visit a place,
you don't walk around
looking for fire extinguishers,
or emergency lights,
or try to find the emergency exits.
Man, I was blind. I was
I was just so happy for him. Jesus.
It's the dream, right?
[Marinho] One of my athletes
was living there.
His name was Vitor Isaías.
Vitor never said, "Marcos,
I'm sleeping in a shipping container."
He never told me that.
Never told me.
[man 14] So, I started working at Flamengo
on October 14th, 2008.
During the day, we monitored the entry
and exit of the players and the staff,
and we also kept track
of any deliveries of groceries.
Or any other materials or market supplies.
That was the daytime procedure.
But in the evening,
the routine was different.
At a specific time, I made my rounds.
[ominous music plays]
[insects chirping]
[machinery humming]
[Filipe] During the night,
right as Wednesday was becoming Thursday,
I was suddenly filled
with an enormous feeling of gratitude
for the opportunity I had been given.
I felt the urge to give thanks to God
and to Our Lady of Aparecida.
I got out of bed and knelt on the floor
and started praying.
I prayed and talked to God until dawn.
The next day, at the exact same time,
I woke up, and the AC unit was on fire.
FEBRUARY 8, 2019
4:50 A.M.
[Filipe] The AC unit
had practically melted.
It was hot in the room,
and I could smell smoke.
I didn't know what to do.
I jumped out of bed in a panic.
-[boy 4] The door is closed!
-[boy 5] Fire!
-[boy 4] It's on that wall!
[Filipe] My first thought was,
"Should I call the supervisor,
or try to put out the fire myself
with some water?"
[Filipe] I looked around for a glass
to throw water at the AC unit,
but I immediately realized it was useless.
The flames were already high
and getting higher.
[boys shouting]
[Filipe] As we ran out of the container,
I thought at first
that only my room was on fire.
But when we got outside, we could see
that the top of the container
was engulfed in flames.
I yelled as loud as I could
that it was on fire.
-[boys yelling]
[glass smashing]
[panicked shouting]
[Filipe] As I watched the container burn,
I realized how bad the situation was.
Like watching a horror movie.
I grabbed the fire extinguisher
that was nearby
and tried to put out the fire,
but it didn't help.
The security guard tried too,
but it didn't do any good.
[muffled shouting]
[Benedito] I saw smoke.
It was getting thicker.
The fire started
on one side.
The wind
It was so fierce, like a wall.
It was impossible to see
if anyone else was in there.
Then a boy came to me.
-He said, "Sir"
-[glass smashing]
[Benedito] "The guys in the back,
they couldn't get out."
I said, "No, really?" He said, "Yes."
[panicked yelling]
[crashing and thumping]
[Benedito] The flames were so high.
I managed to get inside.
But it was already too intense.
[muffled screaming]
[Benedito] I saw a silhouette
in the window
of one boy.
He did this, and he banged on the glass.
[screaming continues]
[Benedito] I removed the frame
and got him out.
[shouting in Portuguese]
[Benedito] A boy who was badly burned
Then we pulled him out together.
We almost didn't get him out.
[Filipe] I ran down the street
to find help,
but I didn't see anyone.
I couldn't find anyone to help me.
I sat down in the middle of the street
and started crying.
[breathing shakily]
[faint shouting]
I couldn't wrap my head around it.
I just wanted to help
my friends who were still inside.
[Benedito] In that moment,
we really didn't understand how
how serious it was.
We started to
grasp the situation
when they began
the roll call.
[man 15 calling out] Christian? Cauã?
[Benedito] They had a list.
[man 15] Francisco Dyogo.
[Benedito] They were missing
[man 15] Bernardo? Rayan?
[Benedito] many, many boys.
[man 15] Pablo? Samuel?
[voice breaking] Filipe? Rykelmo?
[somber music plays]
[music fades]
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