History & Background
In July 1914, a small party of professional footballers from Exeter City, then members of the Southern League, took a ship to Argentina to play a series of games to earn money for the club and help spread the gospel of association football to South America where, due mainly to the playing of the game there by British expatriates, enthusiasm for the relatively new sport was growing rapidly.
On the way back, the party stopped in Rio de Janeiro. The players were by now exhausted, depleted by injury and tired from travel, playing many matches in a short time in unaccustomed heat, but they launched into three matches in as many days against Rio British, a Rio Selection and finally, the team now acknowledged by all official bodies as the first Brazilian national team. In doing so, Exeter City thus became Brazil's first official opponents.
The game was played in the Laranjeiras Stadium, the home of the Fluminense Club and which, today, remains the headquarters of this fine sporting institution. Fluminense, of course, went on to become one of the most famous of Brazilian football clubs, providing many of the great names of Brazilian and world football. Brazil as a football nation went on to become the world's most famous and respected footballing country. Exeter City became members of the Football League and today sit near the top of the fourth tier of arguably the most powerful in-depth leagues in the world.
In 2014, Brazil will host the FIFA World Cup with the final in the iconic Maracana Stadium in Rio. To honour the role of Exeter City in this historic event and mark the anniversary of the original game that 100 years later ultimately led to the staging of the World Cup, Fluminense invited Exeter City to play against them in the Laranjeiras Stadium in July 2014, a short time after the final of the World Cup.
The stadium remains fundamentally unchanged from 1914 and although now with the addition of further stands, the present day Laranjeiras setting remains eerily reminiscent of the original photographs of the 1914 match and there can be no finer place to mark what remains today one of football's unique, historic moments.