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Brazil and Football:
To be Brazilian during any worldwide is a feeling of such an indescribable intensity that it rather difficult to write about it. From a young age, one begins to venerate football. It is not something that is taught, it's deeper. Passion for football rises from within and ascends to become a lifetime affair. Football is so deeply embedded in Brazilian culture that it is only comparable to the religiosity of people. It is, therefore, not astonishing that there is a devotion to the national football as if these were martyrs, giving their all for the glory the country. No, this is not an exaggeration! As extreme as it may seem, it is not uncommon for prayers to be offered in the name of these national heroes, especially prior to matches against historical rival Argentina.
Several sociologists have tried to explain this phenomenon, yet none have been able to truly capture the Brazilian essence in a way accurate enough to represent the intensity of this football frenzy. One theory is that the average man forgets his problems by investing every emotion in a team in order to forget the arduous daily life. Regardless of the explanation, all agree that there is a collective feeling of pride in national football and this plays a very important role in the life of Brazilians.
Football and Me:
I have always thought of myself as not an athletic type person and one that does take much interest in sports in general. I have, until recently, never realized how much football actually meant to me and that I had more of this "Brazilian Passion" that I ever thought. I graduated in 2006 and decided to embark on a trip throughout continental Europe over the summer. I had never been to a World Cup before though I had always been intrigued by the overall experience since Brazil had won the Cup in 94' and I attended the celebrations with my parents. My vague memories of that eventful night were of euphoria, colour, and… well, Brazilians. I decided I had to take part in this celebration of football once again, but this time from the stadium. The choice of Germany for the world cup was simply brilliant. The people were very receptive to tourists and without exception made an extraordinary effort to speak English. In all two months I spend in Germany, I received nothing but the most hospitable of treatments. The infrastructure was impressive with free distribution of maps,
Pictures of Brazil World Cup 2006 Experience
information points well distributed among cities, several public toilets, reduced fares in the underground, organized stadium layouts, good distribution of policemen, street signs in English, and many other measures taken to insure a pleasurable time for the visitor. The cost was also not very high as there many hostels and low-cost hotels which accepted guests without previously booking. This bit is very important in a world cup as you do not know if your team will progress to the next phase and, therefore, it is very difficult to book ahead. Brazil and the World Cup 2006:
The first game played was against Croatia. The team chosen by Coach Carlos Alberto Parreira was highly criticized in Brazil, but these commentaries were not taken in consideration. The game was rather disappointed as the players did not show much effort to obtain a victory. There were moments that reminded the audience of the great football played by Brazil in 2002, such as Ronaldinho playing tricks with the ball and Roberto Carlos' signature distance kick. Despite this memorable start, a series of lousy passes and missed goal chances followed. Finally at a minute to half time, Kaka scored and miraculously saved the match. The rest of game was not worth noting. Result: 1 X 0 for Brazil
The second game played by Brazil was against Australia. Again, the performance was disappointing. Ronaldo was definitely overweight and passed his retirement. There are many players which continue their careers into a later age and follow to play for unknown teams, but Ronaldo seemed to barely be able to run half a meter. Kaka played very well and participated and in the set up for the first point scored for Brazil by Adriano. Although Australia seemed to have made an enormous effort to catch up, the minutes passed quickly and hope began diminish. With the Australian morale down, the Brazil team managed to score with a set up by Robinho and finalization by Fred ending the match with 2 x 0 score in favor of Brazil.
Excitement grew game by game and the next match was much anticipated as both teams had a Brazilian coach. The opponent, Japan, had hired the former Brazilian player and football legend Zico to coach the team that had recently been Asia Cup champion. The game began with a very strong defense from the Japanese team which did not permit the ball to stay for long with the Brazilians. It was a stressful game to watch, as a Brazilian, since Japan was clearly a strong team. Then, at thirty four minutes into the game, Japan scored a goal which made every Brazilian shiver. Then suddenly, the Brazilian seemed to have awoken from the dead! A sequence of well planned goals followed, two of which were done by Ronaldo! It was a miracle! The fans went crazy all over the stadium and in the fan fest areas of all Germany! The final result: Brazil 4 Japan 1.
The next decisive game was played against Ghana. To be honest, this was one opponent I felt great sympathy towards as they were the friendliest I encountered in the stadiums. This saw no brilliance from either side and seemed more like friendly match than a world cup spectacle. There is not much to be said about the game except that despite his heavy weight, Ronaldo scored twice. In the last few minutes, Ze Roberto scored again for Brazil finalizing the match with 3x0.
Last but not least: FRANCE
Before I begin the description of this match, I must illustrate the significance of it. Since Brazil lost to France in the finals of the 98' Cup, there has been much hostility towards French team. In particular, there has been great resentment towards captain Zidane. Despite the fact that I am an educated person who has actually studied French for most of my life (I studied in a French school for several years), I have developed a certain "Francophobia" during the World Cup periods (I actually France in any other period). Just the thought of playing against France in a World Cup made me tremble. I felt that the Brazilian team owed this victory to the country and, therefore, they were to fight to the very end in order to revenge that sour loss.
I choose to not watch this game at the stadium as I was afraid that the excessive adrenaline would only aggravated if I were to attend. I sat close to the television screen and said my prayers in a desperate attempt to seek divine intervention in this epic game. Second after second I became more frantic as the players seemed to ignore the appeal of the fans. True, the first minutes were full of optimism for Brazil, but soon enough the team seemed to make far too many mistakes to be able to win the match. The number of missed goal opportunities augmented as the game went by. Fans from both sides anxiously waited for a first goal. The first half ended without a hero. Then, at 57 into the match, the dreaded occurred: French striker Henri Thierry scored a magnificent goal set up by Zidane. The minutes following included sloppy performance by Brazil which demonstrated no urge to actually win. The sound of the final whistle felt like a cold shower which awoke the fans to cruel reality of defeat. Game result: 1x0 France.
The performance of Brazil in the World Cup was extremely disappointing. It seems like stardom has corrupted the talent of an entire generation of players who deem themselves far too important to care about the legion of fans, not to mention large government investments. If you compare the performance demonstrated whilst playing under multimillion contracts for private clubs and that displayed during the world cup, one will realize the lack of commitment to the national team showed by these players. As a professional, each player should have taken into the consideration the responsibilities encompassed in becoming a national team player. It is also valid to examine the example given by other teams that did not necessarily achieve the winner's title in the cup but demonstrated commitment and sportsmanship throughout the competition. The lack of motivation was very obvious and unity was almost inexistent. Several opportunities to score were not completed due to this lack of connection in the team and the captain seemed to not notice this. Finally, the desperate attitude taken by team whenever the opponent scored was similar to an amateur football club reunion. The vividness of the team and magnanimous talent which had previously granted Brazil five world titles seemed to have vanished in the four, long years that separated the spectacular victory of 02' and the shameful defeat of 06'.
Despite the unpleasing outcome of the World Cup 2006, I had a very good overall experience in Germany. I plan to attend every upcoming World Cup because of the unique emotions I experienced during the last one. I had never felt much patriotic until the day of the first match when I heard the Brazilian national anthem played before the match. The sight of all the fans holding their hands to their hearts and singing with pride those very strong words of the Brazilian independence, made even a cold-heart academic like me cry. I again cried when Brazil lost to France as at this point, I felt so connected to the Brazilian that the loss seemed like my own. I would recommend everyone to attend at least one of World Cup and experience what an array of emotions you had no idea existed in you!
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Oh very good review of the experience of being a fan at the Germany World Cup 2006. Perennial high achievers with expectation to match I sensed your bitterness in the conclusion..lol. Still, at least revenge was taken by Italy on France... clearly Italy had a big Brazilian support for the final. I think though lack of unity and the 'amateur' appearance of national sides isn't uncommon. I think it is probably more difficult for countries where the players play for clubs around the world. Note that for the ultimate winners, unity was driven by scandal - siege mentality, and all players at the time were playing for domestic clubs. The lack of ambition or motivation I think can sometimes be the outward appearance of summer football. I don't really think any national team plays as well as they should... the heat, the end of a long season, the travelling, the lack of tactical cohesion are all notable factors in summer tournaments. Add to that the pressure of expectation and a couple hundred million fans at home..lol. Of course, due to the nature of the competition, luck has a role to play... one event in one game can send a country home. Brazil certainly had the quality to mount a challenge for the World Cup.. Argentina probably had the class, but ultimately Italy had the nerve, the determination and the moments of brilliance that are necessary to win any World Cup. In the end it wasn't the big names that lived up to expectation (even for the winners) it was the players who sacrificed all their energies for team cause... no better example than Gennaro Gattuso and Andrea Pirlo. As an Englishman who supports Italy I guess you could say I had a very different experience to you as I sat at home..lol... but one I'll never forget either! Well done, Pete xx