Learning what Brazil is all about

April 20, 2010 at 8:05 am Leave a comment

In 1987 Flamengo beat Internacional 1×0 to win the national title for a record fifth time. I was there. My earliest memory of being a soccer fan was winning it all.

I followed Brazil closely for the first time in 1989. My first memory though was the stress of a must-win game. I was at a party friends of my family had invited us to and, looking for reassurance from the adults, asked a few people if we were going to beat Paraguay. I encountered cynicism, disinterest and disappointment – Brazil had come from two 0x0 ties and no one expected much. Upset that I hadn’t found what I was looking for, I sat alone in a small bedroom and watched two beautiful Bebeto goals send us into the final round. Brazil had proved the adults wrong. Cynicism was defeated by goals. As anyone who witnessed this win would expect, we went on to win the whole tournament in convincing fashion. I had been spoiled.

Then came the World Cup, my first. I watched every game closely and cried when we lost. When qualifying turned into a struggle in 1993 I suffered. Critics told us the team was dire and no different than the Dunga-era ugliness that lost in 1990. So when I watched us take revenge on Bolivia with the best display I had yet witnessed I knew whose side I was on. Two games later the addition of Romario united the naïve hopefuls and the tough critics. Somehow though, after winning the Cup, it was back to dismissing the team as not quite Brazilian.

The 1989 – 1994 period was my formation as a Brazil fan. I saw beautiful soccer, despite what some people would have you believe. I saw us end two droughts and become, once again, winners. I thought, watching Romario and Ronaldo lead us through the next cycle, that we would dominate for years playing such beautiful soccer. Sure enough we won everything before 1998, sadly though, we lost the World Cup. The depression that set in confirmed that 1994 had correctly taught me to appreciate winning. It also taught me something about those who had complained about our style: they too like winning above all else.

This short biography is a little self-indulgent to be sure. Then again it’s a blog post so you already knew that. More importantly then, it’s intended as a brief look into my psyche and to shed light on what I say in the next post. Brazilians like to win. Being a winner spoils you. I’m sure that’s how it was for those who suffered through 1966 after winning two titles and it’s been like this for my generation.

Talk of Brazil, both in Brazilian and foreign media, suffers from so many cliché’s and stereotypes that I want to start from my perspective. A perspective at once grounded in reality but discovered by the hopeful child. Hopefully I can set aside platitudes and connect to what it means, through my eyes, to watch Brazil.


Entry filed under: Brazil.

… and the rest of the world. I found some jogo bonito

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