Brasilmagic\’s Weblog

Venting to the World

World Cup: fanaticism or patriotism?

As every native Brazilian, I love the World Cup. Since it only comes every 4 years, it is very exciting, like a dear friend you haven’t seen for years.

A lot can happen in fours years of a person’s life. Therefore, many Brazilians like me tend to remember each World Cup and what was happening in their lives in that period.

I remember my first World Cup and how I came to get the fever: 1970. Mexico. Brazil was proclaimed champion. Pele, or “King Pele”, as he was called, played brilliantly and scored so many goals that Brazilians went wild. I vividly remember the fireworks after each goal. I also remember my father gathering the family into his Dodge Dart and letting us kids sit on top, while a slow procession of cars honking their horns and carrying big Brazilian flags took over the streets. This sense of victory and patriotic pride made quite an impression on my young mind.

For many World Cups to come, there was always celebration involved, but none ever topped the thrill of that 1970 World Cup. Maybe in the subsequent years I was less impressionable and had other things going on in my life. Still, every World Cup was awaited with eagerness. I knew Brazil would perform well and that we would use the games as an excuse to party and hoot.

Things changed when I moved to America the last time (I have lived on and off both countries since I was 4). Living in the cosmopolitan and diverse Washington D.C. area, it was always easy to find a group of Brazilians watching the games together or a restaurant/bar that would show the games and attract Brazilian patrons. I would then have my little 2 hour fix or cheers and hoots. Once I stepped out of the restaurant we would leave that magic world and see Americans going about their business, not giving one thought to the fact there was a World Cup going on.

See, in Brazil the World Cup fever begins a few months before the games begin. You start seeing green and yellow gear being sold in stands and stores, you start seeing ads on TV referring to the championship and you hear people discuss the merits of each player and how good the coach really is. You are surrounded 24/7 and in every corner by the World Cup. During the games, life practically stops during the 2 hours that Brazil plays. I am sure emergency room employees are glued to a television set (or should I say monitor nowadays?).

Meanwhile, in North America, you hardly hear or see any mention that there is a World Cup going on. Few channels show the games. Few ads on TV except in a specific channel that broadcasts the games live. Forget radio. Newspapers carry a small update on the Cup amidst other stories about basketball and baseball. Sports commentators discuss local games while ignoring the worldwide event that brings together millions of people in the planet and generates millions of dollars.

We have heard many reasons why Americans don’t care for soccer (or shall we say, football): too boring, too slow, not enough goals, children’s sport, girly sport, not violent enough, the USA team is not good and Americans don’t like anything they don’t excel in, Americans consider it a “third world” game, Americans relate it to dark skinned people (!), Americans see it as un-American…and the list goes on.

As much as I enjoy watching Brazil play, and as much as I cherish each victory Brazil has, having now lived outside Brazil for 12 years has made me look at the whole World Cup obsession with different eyes: it is ok to be happy and celebrate a Brazil victory, it is ok to cheer and jump up and down when we score a goal, it is ok to wear all green and yellow from your head to your toe when watching the games….but you have to keep things in perspective. This is a game, that’s all. This is not about your identity or your character as an individual or as a nation. Therefore, if Brazil loses a game or the opponent scores a goal, it is not ok to be extremely upset and storm out of the room, throw things and be depressed for days.

Brazilians tend to associate the success of their national team to their self esteem as a country. It’s just a game folks. There is always another game in the future. Losing a game or even the whole championship does not mean that your country is lesser in any way. Brazilians (and Argentinians and the Brits) need to let go off fanaticism. Brazilians should stop linking their identity as a country to the outcome of the World Cup. There should be other reasons to be proud of being Brazilian: economic success, growth, medicine, exports and progress in many areas.

Now, if you will excuse me, I am going to start planning the barbecue before the Brazil game on Sunday with family and friends…


June 17, 2010 - Posted by | Brazil


  1. Eu sempre leio o seus blogs ADORO!!!! Concordo com tudo!!! E impressionante!!! Eu moro nos eua ha 5 anos casei com um americano e tenho a sorte de trabalhar como fisioterapeuta em NY depois de muita luta!!! Quando vc escreve sobre qualquer assunto eu me sinto muito menos isolada e confusa porque eu percebo que eu PERTENCO A UM GRUPO… o grupo de brasileiros bilingues, multiculturais e com a alma dividida entre dois paises…

    Comment by Marina Oliveira | June 18, 2010 | Reply

    • Obrigada Marina! Quem sabe você faz um guest post aqui também contando suas experiências e como você vê as diferenças. Um abraço!

      Comment by Brasilmagic | June 18, 2010 | Reply

  2. Cool site I’m also brazuca being here since 1991. Sou do Sul do Brasil.

    Comment by Antonio pereira | July 10, 2010 | Reply

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