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Oct 13 2014

Brazil 2014: Day 6 (10/11/2014)- A Trip to the Maracanã

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By: Cherie Barber

Today in Brazil, the SIM team had the opportunity to attend a Brazilian soccer game in downtown Rio De Janeiro at the Maracanã Stadium; the same stadium where Germany defeated Argentina to win the World Cup! Today’s match was the #1 ranked Cruzeiro soccer club against the hometown favorite Flamengo soccer club.

During our week in Brazil, we’ve heard from top sports executives and local citizens that in the fairly recent past soccer stadiums in Brazil were dangerous places to visit. A lack of security caused crime to be a consistent problem; from pick pocketing to brawls that resulted in serious injury or even death. The crime was so high that women and children did not attend soccer games. In fact, they were not permitted to attend. As a result, many Brazilian soccer stadiums don’t even have women’s restrooms. When asked why the fans behaved this way, the answer was because in Brazil soccer is so important to the culture that it is like a religion. Passions are so high that to many fans, soccer is even a matter of life and death.

So, on our way to the Maracanã stadium, many of us weren’t sure what to expect. The women in our group were wondering if there would be other women at the game or if there would even be women’s restrooms. We were also concerned if we would all be able to sit in the seats we paid for, as assigned ticketed seating was never common  in Brazil. People paid for general admission and sat wherever they wanted in the stadiums.

As we pulled up to the 78,000 seat stadium, we could already begin to tell that Maracanã was a world class stadium with none of the issues of the past. Although built in the 1950’s, originally to hold 200,000 fans, the stadium underwent major renovations to comply with FIFA standards and accommodate the World Cup. The stadium was clean and had new flooring and tiling throughout the concourses and bathroom facilities for both men and women. The concession stands were upgraded and properly spaced along the concourses. There was new signage identifying section numbers and restrooms. There were flat screen TVs spaced throughout the concourses along with an upgraded sound system. The seating was comfortable and the ticketed seating assignments seemed to be adhered to by the fans. Best of all, there were plenty of families there with women and children. The crowd was passionate and a lot of fun! We had a blast experiencing a futbol game the Brazilian way!!!

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Oct 12 2014

Brazil 2014: Day 5 (10/10/2014)- HSBC Arena

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By: Bradley Williams

Today, the SIM Brazil group attended the NBA Global Games preseason exhibition between the new-look Cleveland Cavaliers and the Lebron-less Miami Heat at Brazil’s HSBC Arena.  The Cavaliers vs. Heat game was the second NBA game held in Brazil at the HSBC Arena, the first game was the 2013 NBA Global Games exhibition between the Chicago Bulls and Washington Wizards.  The HSBC Arena, formally the Arena Olimpica do Rio (RioArena) is an indoor multi-purpose arena located in the region of Barra de Tijuca in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil hosted the basketball and gymnastics events of the 2007 Pan American Games and is the home of the Flamengo club basketball team.  Construction of the arena was completed in July 2007, GL Events began managing the arena in December 2007 and in March 2008 the arena was given its current name as part of a naming rights agreement with HSBC bank.

As the bus arrived to the arena, first impressions of the outside of the building and neighborhood were impressive for Brazilian standards.  Although, there was construction going on outside the arena for two new Olympic venues directly across the street were several new high rise apartment building and condos.  The ongoing construction did cause the traffic to be congested outside the arena, and without traffic control it was miserable.  As the group proceeded to the turnstiles to enter the arena we initially had trouble navigating the hundreds of fans waiting in line to get into the game.  The crowd management and directional signage were minimal and somewhat confusion (mainly because of the language barrier).  Once through the ticket/checkpoint, it was time to tour the arena with our legendary facilities manager guru Dean Goldwater.  As we began walking through the first level concourse, there were obvious and noticeable difference from the typical NBA arena in the US.  The observations are below:

  • Narrow concourses, low ceiling and dim lighting.
  • Only three permanent food/beverage stations and another 3 temporary concession stands.
  • Arena walls were empty – minimal sponsor, advertisement and directional signage.
  • Only 2 merchandise stands for the thousands of Brazilian fans looking to buy NBA apparel.

Once inside the body of the arena, there were even more obvious difference between the HSBC arena and the typical NBA.

  • The scoreboard video quality was something from the late 1980’s, four 70in screens which had standard definition display.
  • The scoreboard was reminiscent high school score, which was a temporary structure setup in the seated section of on the first concourse.
  • No premium seating sections or luxury suites with the typical amenities available at NBA arenas.

After attending the game and touring the arena I identified multiple opportunities to monetize the arena and enhance the fan experience, strategies that have benefited all major professional sports facilities in the US from concourse entertainment and interactive zones, competitions, team stores selling merchandise and sports memorabilia, sponsor activations, wifi/internet access point, variety of concessions selections (Tex-Mex, Italian), parking and traffic control and sports bars/lounges.

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Oct 12 2014

Brazil 2014: Day 5 (10/10/2014)- NBA Global Game Experience

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By: Jordan Johnson

For many, Friday night was all about LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Kevin Love. But for most Brazilians, the excitement was to see their fellow Brazilian Anderson Varejao play in the Rio de Janeiro NBA Global Game. Witnessing the very first meeting between the Miami Heat and Cleveland Cavaliers at the HSBC Arena was nothing short of amazing.

We left as a group three hours before the game to get there on time knowing traffic would be crazy just to get to the arena. Once we got to the HSBC Arena we were engulfed in a large crowd of NBA fans. When I say NBA fans, I mean the fact that there were numerous jerseys of Kobe Bryant, Allen Iverson, Kevin Durant, Dirk Nowitzki, Kevin Garnett, Kevin Johnson, LeBron James, Anderson Varejao, Dwayne Wade and of course jerseys of Michael Jordan. The NBA did a great job of having plenty of activities for fans to engage in before the game. There were free-throw shooting stations, photo booths, plenty of food and beverage concessions, and even an area where fans were playing the recently released video game, NBA 2K15.

Once you entered the gym you could feel the excitement all around. Fans were screaming every time they saw a dunk in the team lay-up lines during pre-game warm ups.  They honored NBA legends Pat Riley, Alonzo Mourning, Gary Payton and Steve Smith. In game entertainment included the dance teams for the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Miami Heat, as well as both mascots from the teams which were the highlights were for most young fans. Because the game was broadcasted on ESPN, we all had a feeling that LeBron James, Kevin Love and Dwayne Wade would play most of the game, which they did.  The players put on a show for the fans and it turned out to be a good game.

Another student and I got a chance to watch some of the game on the lower level near the court, and luckily for me it ended up being two quarters. Rookie Shabazz Napier was clutch in the 4th quarter to single handedly bring the Miami Heat back from a double digit deficit to force overtime. The Cavaliers ended up winning the game by three points in overtime.  Witnessing the NBA experience in another country was very exciting and the show the players put on for us made it even better. The game was definitely a memorable game for us and for the people of Brazil.

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Oct 11 2014

Brazil 2014: Day 4 (10/09/2014)- Confederação Brasileira de Futebol

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By: Kate Goldstein

Our professors definitely saved the best for last. Our final day of meetings started off with a personal presentation of the long road that is the preparations for the 2016 Olympics by the deputy CEO of the Rio Olympic Committee, Leonardo Gryner.  It was a hard act to follow, however our presentation at the CBF, Confederação Brasileira de Futebol or the Confederation of Brazilian Football, was truly an amazing experience. Manoel Flores, the National coordinator between FIFA and CBF as well as the match day operations manager, spoke to us on the history, division system, and culture surrounding the CBF. Following his presentation we were given a special tour of the brand new and interactive CBF museum that boasts the lush history of the CBF and national pride that is Brazilian Football.

TIMG_9448he CBF was founded in 1914 and has been filled with a rich and colorful history. The CBF has two main focuses of business. One line of business is the focus on the national teams and competitions concerning the Olympics, World Cup, under 21 cup, under 17 cup, and under 15 cup. The other line of business is competitions within Brazil. This covers the official 11 CBF competitions, every competition within the four divisions, the national cup, under 21 cup, under 17 cup, under 15 cup, women’s championship, and women’s cup. Although women’s sports here in Brazil are far behind the times it is a requirement of FIFA and the legacy of the world cup that 50% of legacy proceeds’ goes to women’s sports.

Football is by far the most popular sport in Brazil and, as Mr. Flores told us, is like a religion here. The football system here in Brazil is very unique compared to the rest of the world. The CBF contains four divisions, 20 clubs for the first  three divisions and the fourth division has 40 clubs. The top clubs like those in the G-12, have a huge and unprecedented number of fans. The Flamenco team has close to 30 million fans, almost the population of Argentina. The CBF consists of 27 different states within Brazil that elect the current president of the CBF along with the top twenty teams in the first division. The way the division system works from year to year to determine who is in what division is wholly unique to Brazil. The bottom four teams from every division at the end of the season get relegated down to the next division and the top four teams move up to the next division. In the event of a team getting relegated to a lower division you find people on the brink of suicide. This is important to understand the culture surrounding these teams and the emotion and devotion tied to these clubs.

What are the plans for the next five years for CBF following the World Cup and with the upcoming Olympics? Some of the big-ticket issues are the complete reconstruction of the management of these clubs. The biggest problem faced by football clubs today is the complete lack of money and enormous debt. These clubs are run through government legislation and in turn their debt is completely owed to the government. Debt refinancing by the Brazilian government will be key in the survival of these clubs. Another change will be to the financial structure within these clubs. Right now all club money goes to the players. Coaches and staff are supposed to be volunteers. Asking someone to manage a club full time without being paid and keep track of millions of Real’s a year is completely impractical.

Mr. Flores mentioned the complete lack of grassroots system in place for player development within Brazil. However driving around Rio the past few days you would have to close your eyes to not see the hundreds public turf fields, and beach soccer goals set up. They may not have a legitimate grassroots system in place but they sure do have an environment that promotes soccer at the youngest age. Football is truly a religion here in Brazil.

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Oct 11 2014

Brazil 2014: Day 4 (10/10/2014)- Rio 2016 Organizing Committee

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By: William Tucker

Friday was a fun day for our group here in Rio. After the conclusion of the 2014 World Cup this past summer, attention in the city has turned towards the upcoming 2016 Olympics Games. After another early breakfast, our morning meeting found us at the downtown headquarters of the Rio 2016 Organizing Committee for the Olympic and Paralympic Games where we had the incredible opportunity to hear from it’s deputy CEO Leonardo Gryner. The organizing committee is the main body tasked by the International Olympic Committee with the planning and organization of the Olympic Games for a given host city. It works closely with local, state, and federal governments as well as other stakeholders on all aspects of Games organization. Naturally, for those reasons, you could sense that this was one of the most anticipated meetings of the week!

Rio 2016 LogoMr. Gryner’s presentation focused heavily on their concept for the 2016 Games and the strong legacy that the Games will leave for not only the city of Rio de Janeiro but the whole of Brazil as well. The organizers plan on taking advantage of Rio’s breathtaking landscape and cityscape in its four main zones: Barra, Deodoro, Maracana, and Copacabana. The main Olympic Park along with most of the competition venues plus the Olympic Village will be located in the new, developing area of Barra. Other venues will be located all around the city in famous and historical settings such as Copacabana beach and the Rio Sambadrome. A common theme throughout Mr. Gryner’s presentation was Rio 2016 as a transformation for the city and it soon became clear that this was more than just talk. Venue construction, infrastructure upgrades, as well as cultural and educational outreach will leave Rio de Janeiro and Brazil with a lasting legacy;

–          The first public golf course in Brazil

–          The first Olympic Training Center in South America

–          Renovation of national sports infrastructure through new venues

–          The second largest public park in the city

–          70 new hotels for Rio

–          The first high-capacity public transport link to an airport in Brazil

–          Multi-million renovation of city’s port area

–          …and so much more

These are just a handful of the transformation that the Olympic and Paralympic Games will have on the city and you could tell that Mr. Gryner was so excited to be a part of this exciting change. A short question and answer session followed with students with topics ranging from social media, security, integration of the Paralympic Games, transportation, and even how we could get involved! Our meeting left us with a greater sense of what goes into planning the Olympic Games and I have no doubt that many of us will be back in two years time to see these plans in action.

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Oct 11 2014

Brazil 2014: Day 3 (10/09/2014)- Raj Saha from Anshutz Enterntainment Group (AEG)

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By: Philip Oertle

On Thursday night we met with Raj Saha from Anshutz Enterntainment Group, better known as AEG. Mr. Saha was originally hired by our very own Dean Goldwater to work at the Madison Square Garden in New York City back in 1998. He started his career with AEG in 2006 when he was appointed to take care of the Michael Jackson concerts at the O2 Arena in London. He told us about the challenges that the sudden passing of Mr. Jackson presented them with as it meant that 50 days opened up in the arena calendar that were not affiliated with any single sports team.

IMG_4239Raj also talked about the opportunities AEG was able to take advantage of in the wake of the London 2012 Olympics. He discussed how they are trying to apply the lessons learned from London to achieve even better results than in Brazil. It was very apparent that what made Mr. Saha so successful at his job was his understanding of the peculiarities of the cultures in the countries AEG does business in.

When asked about the biggest challenges he had to face here in Brazil he mentioned that before the World Cup there was a lack of adequate stadiums to host events in. He also said that the big problem now was that there are no adequate indoor arenas that meet international standards for major events. This is another problem that is important for AEG to solve as their core business includes music concerts. For example Rock in Rio, an event that takes place over the span of six nights, is always sold out.  It has featured major internationally renowned starts including the Rolling Stones.

Mr. Saha left us with several tips to successfully land a job abroad: learn the local language, take care of your work visas, do not come with an American one size fits all attitude, scale your experience to the local challenges and last but not least, ask a lot of simple questions.

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Oct 10 2014

Brazil 2014: Day 3 (10/09/2014)- Spectacular Views and Nike Experience Store

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By: Shannon McCarthy

photo 1Today was our third day in Rio and we went to what has to be the most gorgeous point in the whole city, Sugarloaf Mountain. There are two connecting cable cars that take you to two different mountains that are different heights from the ground. It is a short ride to each peak and there are places to walk around and take photos. When you get to the first peak it is truly incredible. You are able to see so much and so far out into the ocean, and so much of the city down below. There were some hiking trails, but we didn’t explore them; we only stuck to the photography program. After walking around for about 15 minutes we went to the next, higher mountain peak. I honestly, didn’t believe that it would get better, but it did. When you get off and walk out of the docking area for the cable car, you are immediately taken aback with the beauty. You can see Copacabana Beach, the bay, and even Christ the Redeemer. You feel like you are on top of the world and that you can see everything that is happening in Rio. It was also great because you can walk all the way around in a circle and get a 360 degree view of everything around you.

IMG_4230 (1)After the amazing views at Sugarloaf we went to the Centro downtown area of Rio, before heading to a Nike store in that part of the city. We met with the store manager Dawes Ramos, who gave us a tour of this extremely unique store. When you first walk in you would probably mistake it for any other typical Nike store you would find back in the states, however this one was built specifically for soccer. It opened back in April of 2014 before the World Cup and has been extremely successful. This store has three different levels with varying floor types to help simulate different surfaces that players may be on (wood, grass turf, and asphalt). The top floor is so unique in that it is actually a smaller, replica artificial-turf field with a regulation goal embedded on one of the walls outside. The premise of the store is to be an “Experience Store,” in that it allows customers to have a better feel for the shoes in a more real life setting to the field. They are anticipating more stores similar to this one to be built in the near future, most likely beginning with the United Kingdom.

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Oct 09 2014

Brazil 2014: Day 2 (10/08/2014)- Doing Business in Brazil

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By: Thomas Hsieh

Our jam-packed Day 2 continued with a trip to Centro, the downtown area and oldest part of Rio, to meet with the American Chamber of Commerce in Rio (“Amcham”).  Following a heated discussion on the legacies of Britney Spears vs. Beyoncé, we arrived in Centro with enough time to grab a quick bite to eat or explore.  A small group of us chose the latter, hoping to save our appetites for our feast at Porçau, and used our brief moment of freedom to visit Palácio Tiradentes, the home of the state legislature, and some incredibly beautiful churches.

Palacio Tiradentes

Palacio Tiradentes

Once we reconvened at Amcham’s building, we met with Rafael Lourenço, Amcham’s Executive Director, and Steven Bipes, one of Amcham’s board members and the U.S. Section of the Brazil-U.S. Business Council’s Chief Representative in Brazil.

Mr. Lourenço kicked off the meeting by giving a presentation on Amcham’s history and the services that Amcham provides to its members.  Amcham was founded in 1916, making it the oldest chamber in Latin America.  All types and sizes of businesses can be counted among Amcham’s membership of 300.  Amcham’s services revolve around its three pillars: (1) to help businesses network; (2) to advocate on their behalf; and (3) to foster bilateral commercial relationships between Brazil and the United States.  Although the bulk of Amcham’s work is done by its committees representing various industries, Amcham also provides other services such as hosting events and missions to help educate its members.

Following the presentation, we had a Q&A session with Mr. Lourenço and Mr. Bipes, which helped to flesh out the cultural issues that were raised in our meetings with NBA Brazil and Octagon Brazil and put those issues into context.  For anyone hoping to work in Brazil or do business in Brazil, this meeting addressed a number of pitfalls which one might encounter.

Meeting with Bipes and LourencoMr. Bipes commented on certain areas of Brazilian culture that tend to frustrate non-Brazilian entities looking to do business.  Most notably, the Brazilian tax system is very complex and unfriendly towards non-Brazilian companies, as they are heavily taxed on goods being exported to Brazil.  (A quick visit to the Nike Store in Ipanema revealed that a pair of Nike shoes can cost U.S. $400.)  Other issues included confusion about the purpose and function of Brazilian notaries public, the different structure of Brazil’s corporate system, and the lack of a bilateral economic partnership agreement between the U.S. and Brazil.

Despite the complicated tax system and rigid employee-friendly labor laws (all of which have been in place for 30 to 40 years), Brazil still presents a rewarding opportunity for companies hoping to enter this space.  Ever since Brazil resolved its hyperinflation issues, Brazil’s middle class has grown exponentially and continues to grow today, meaning that companies have a growing supply of potential consumers of their goods and services.

Mr. Bipes also offered advice to anyone hoping to do business in Brazil, noting that companies have to be willing to put in substantial time and effort on the front end in developing their business models.  “Brazil is Brazil,” Mr. Bipes noted, and he further explained how companies cannot expect to be successful if they only reuse models used in other countries.  Because Brazil has never had a true break from its roots as a monarchy and later a military government, it is still going through the process of decentralization and globalization that many countries went through long ago, thus leading to the unique cultural issues seen today.


In response to questions regarding the effect the World Cup and the Olympics have had on the number of companies seeking to do business in Brazil, Mr. Lourenço and Mr. Bipes noted that there has not been any substantial change, but that such inactivity is most likely due to 2014 being an election year.  Highlighting the importance of the interplay between business and politics, the speakers commented that the current administration historically has not been business-friendly and that companies are waiting until the election results are finalized before taking any further actions.

To learn more about Amcham and its activities, you can visit www.amchamrio.com.


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Oct 09 2014

Brazil 2014: Day 2 (10/08/2014)- Octagon: Passion, Engagement and Results

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By: Julian Carrington

10672203_10152758288264417_3778006909975198284_nDay two of the Georgetown Sports Industry Management Brazil Global Sporting Immersion started off with a bang! After an early morning start, we headed off to meetings at the world renowned firm, Octagon.  At Octagon Brasil, we met with Aykan Azar,  Director of Corporate Consulting, and Mariana Kuchnir, Account Manager.  Their presentation was extremely engaging and our entire group gained significant insight into the operations that the company is tasked with on a daily and long-term basis.

Symone Kidd (SIM class of 2015) stated, “Aykan and Mariana gave a great presentation! I really enjoyed how they broke down the World Cup efforts and results by numbers.  It was also great that they explained how some of the sponsors such as Johnson+Johnson incorporated giving back to the Brazilian community as part of their World Cup activation.”

While sponsorship deals represent only a small fraction of Octagon Brasil’s responsibilities, this Johnson+Johnson World Cup sponsorship really hit home with me. The two companies came up with an initiative using the premise of the World Cup to save lives through the donation of blood. The plan was to save as many lives as there are seats in the famous Maracanã Stadium.  The stadium that played host to the World Cup Final holds a whopping 78,838. Based on what we learned, this initiative was extremely successful and they achieved their goal.

Passion, engagement and results are the words Octagon lives by.  They also strive to maintain a global presence with 70 offices all over the world.  When I left the meeting I could not help but feel I wanted to work for Octagon in Brazil.  

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Oct 08 2014

Brazil 2014: Day 1 (10/07/2014)- An Exciting Start

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By: Jameil Johnson

The first week of the SIM Brazil Immersion Trip is off to an exciting start! On the night of day one, we met with two individuals at a restaurant in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

The group first met with Georgetown Alum, Ky Adderley ’98. Ky recently created a non-profit sports program for children in low-income Brazilian communities, offering high-level soccer, track, and basketball instruction as well as character-building classes and English courses to prepare the students for life and universities abroad. Several SIM students were so interested in the non-profit that they volunteered to help out on Saturday morning.

Arnon de Mello - Brazil

SIM Students meet with Arnon de Mello, Managing Director for NBA Brazil

Next, the group met with Arnon de Mello, Managing Director of NBA Brazil. In his role as Managing Director, de Mello oversees the expansion of the NBA’s business and the development of basketball initiatives throughout Brazil. He directs all of the NBA’s efforts in the country across marketing partnerships, events, television, digital media and licensed merchandise.

This week de Mello is managing a local preseason NBA contest between the Miami Heat and Cleveland Cavaliers, an NBA FanFest on Ipanema beach and a 3 on 3 basketball tournament. He told the group that a key strategy involves bringing Brazilian NBA players like Nene and Anderson Varejao back to Brazil to participate in preseason games.

He gave the group an overview of NBA Brazil. Brazil and Mexico represent the NBA’s biggest partners in terms of growth and increase in popularity and marketing. A record of seven Brazilian basketball players are signed to NBA rosters for the 2014 – 2015 season. In the past two years, NBA Brazil’s business has grown by a factor of three. Finally, 40% – 45% of NBA sales in Latin America originate in Brazil.

As the evening came to an end, de Mello answered questions from all 15 SIM students in attendance. One student asked if NBA Brazil is involved in any Corporate Social Responsibility initiatives in Rio de Janeiro. He responded that NBA Brazil is partnering with Adidas and Spalding to educate Brazilian public school coaches how to teach basketball starting at the end of 2014. The goal of this initiative is to reach 10,000 public school students from Rio de Janeiro to Sao Paulo by the end of 2015.

Another student asked if there is a possibility of the NBA adding a regular season game to Brazil anytime soon. De Mello responded that he prefers preseason games because the preseason schedule allows more time for media exposure between players, coaches, teams and corporate sponsors. NBA teams can stay in Brazil for an extended period of time during the preseason, which would not be possible during the regular season. Lastly, a student asked how NBA Brazil used social media to advertise this week’s events. He responded that they did all of their advertising for the week’s events through Facebook and all tickets were sold online.

Wednesday promises to be one of the busiest days of the week, as the group is meeting with Octagon Brazil, the U.S. – Brazil Business Council in Centro and having dinner at an authentic Brazilian Steak House!

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