There is so much to be analysed and said about the World Cup. Despite the fact that it is a grandiose event, it is an all-welcoming occasion that touches those deeply rooted traditions and behaviours of the nations involved. It is a display of talent, commitment, beauty and fun. The heart rates soar and the tension is palpable. Everyone wants to see the stars of each team in action. However, to everyone’s surprise, the soccer’s nation experienced some painful attention this year. How can we all make sense of it all?
Apart from Germany’s slaughter of Brazil, the skilfulness and restlessness of certain players still amazes me. Yes, the Brazilians, especially. I vividly remember the 1994 and 2002 World Cups and that is what keeps me hopeful. The good players are out there, they were just not ‘in’ there. Bad call, Felipão, bad call.
Well, you know, things started collapsing after the second game. People around could not believe the bad performances they had just watched from Brazil. You could see the expressions of surprise and disappointment as they were also expecting an exciting game. I nearly lost my composure in the pub where I was watching Brazil vs Germany.
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Then it brought to mind an experience from the first match between Brazil vs Croatia when I was in a restaurant owned by a German with a bunch of Germans around, eyes fixed to the big screen, watching the game. I was so happy to be a Brazilian there at that moment as all Germans were supporting Croatia, the European team. I shouted and cheered the team, trusting that the next match would be better and we would win the 6th time.
The disappointment of many
As you can imagine being a Brazilian in Europe caused people to offer me some TLC after the ‘7×1 episode’. I never thought an Irish person would feel sorry for me the way someone did a few days after that game. I was in the hospital with a friend chatting with the nurse and then after realising I was Brazilian she looked at me with an awkward face and let out a sad ‘Oh, I’m really sorry!’ Ouch!
People’s eyes would shine at the mention of a Brazilian game before the first match. Great expectations set the tone for the championship. Bursting with excitement, many could not wait until the day they would be in front of the telly watching soccer’s greatest fighting for the title.
No appointments, visits, chats or delays on the days of the games. I did not want to talk during the matches and would go around the next day like a zombie; having gone to bed very late the night before due to watching games plus commentaries (we are four hours ahead of Brazil here). Too much expectation, too much involvement. Honestly, I do not know what came over me this year. I was more detached during previous tournaments.
Life goes on
We know for sure that our lives as spectators and supporters have not changed much. The players are still rich (some richer than before), the Germans feel more powerful, the European commentators have more ammunition to criticise the South American teams; we Brazilians understand that the bad performance of the “seleção” ended up being a good thing – the attention can now go back to the pre-World Cup’s climate and the protests and the fight against corruption may gain a more serious place within the nation.
There are certainly different lessons to be learned regarding soccer too: without passion great things are not achieved; do not trust in reputation in order to give the enemy a fright; being at home is certainly not synonymous with feeling at home (the pressure was on!); go for the experienced winners to get the job done (Kaká watching from the stands?!); one star cannot be the only hope of a team; it is not an audition for Hollywood (interesting dives!) etc. etc.
It seems we all have the answers now.
The good memories
But, yes, there is this love for the sport and it is part of the culture. We find excuses, try to blame this or that one (bad referee!) and all sorts of escapism to try to console ourselves. What can we do? All is not lost.
After Brazil’s exit from the World Cup and in an attempt to show others (and myself!) that there are good memories to cling to I clicked on Youtube on the day of the final. I watched a few compilations of great recent moments of soccer history with Ronaldo, Ronaldinho, Robinho, Kaká. Ahhhhh…pure class!