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Brazil: Football and Patriotism During the World Cup

When the national team of your country is on the World Cup football field, do you support it? Brazil is facing The Netherlands today in the quarter final of the World Cup. Despite what most people might think, not all Brazilians would answer affirmatively to the above question. Doubtlessly there are uncountable bloggers who are cheering up the Brazilian team, although there are others who are not.

Marcelo Pereira, from blog Planeta Laranja [Orange Planet, pt], has been blogging about the patriotic hype wave during the World Cup, claiming that it represents a “collective hypnosis” which is just the result of an “irrational and rampant fanaticism”. He explains the link between football and patriotism pointing out several “incoherences” presented by those he calls “the World Cup Patriots”:

Confundem a “seleção” com o próprio país e acham que os jogadores representam o nosso povo; Tratam o futebol como dever cívico e não como uma mera forma de diversão; Nunca são patriotas em assuntos sérios. Mas na copa passam a “amar” o Brasil; Só gostam da seleção oficial de futebol (a que joga nesta copa). Outras modalidades de futebol (feminino, júnior, salão, praia) são ignoradas pelos mesmos; Acham que os jogadores fazem uma importante missão caridosa e heróica, apenas empurrando as bolas nas traves; Os torcedores acham que não são manipulados pela mídia, mas fazem tudo perfeitamente como mandam os meios de comunicação; O país interrompe suas atividades para ver um jogo da “seleção”; Se acham no direito de fazer barulho na hora que querem sem respeitar o direito dos outros ao sossego

They confuse “national team” with their own nation and they think that the players stand for our people; They see football as civic duty and not as a mere form of entertainment; They are never patriotic in serious issues. But during the World Cup they suddenly “love” Brazil; They only like the national football team (the one that plays this world cup). Other football genres (women, youth, indoor football, beach soccer) are simply ignored; They think that the players are set for an important heroic charitable mission when kicking the ball into the goalpost; Fans think they are not manipulated by the media, but they do exactly what the media vehicles tell them to; the country stops its activities to watch the “team” play; They feel the right to make a fuzz at anytime not respecting other people's right to quietness.

Elio Botogoske goes a bit further in exploring the concepts of nationalism and patriotism. Among the five reasons not to support Brazilian National Football team [pt] he posted about, Elio includes:

1. O patriotismo, nacionalismo e ufanismo são as ideologias mais desprezíveis do mundo.
“Mas e quanto ao racismo e o fascismo?”, dirão alguns. Bem, o fascismo nasce justamente do cruzamento do racismo imemorial com o orgulho nacional do século XIX. patriotismo, ufanismo e nacionalismo são a antessala do fascismo. Nessa Copa, em especial, nunca vi uma abordagem tão belicista e ufanista, estimulados pela imprensa, a propaganda, a comissão técnica dessa seleção. Parece que estamos indo para a guerra. Pois bem, se vamos pra guerra, eu estou desertando desde já.

2. O Brasil é os Estados Unidos do futebol: a potência imperialista, gananciosa e supremacista.
Quando se trata de futebol, os brasileiros sentem-se superiores, contam vantagem, querem ganhar sempre e em tudo. Nossa arrogância, preconceito e ganância futebolísticas deixam antever o que nós seremos no dia em que formos potência em alguma coisa realmente importante. E tome da ridícula rivalidade com a Argentina, da gananciosa ambição de vencer sempre, de se sentir melhor que todos os demais povos e países só porque temos mais títulos no futebol.

1. Patriotism, nationalism and chauvinism are the most despicable ideologies in the world.
“Ah, what about racism and fascism?”, some of you may ask. Well, fascism was born precisely from the crossing of immemorial racism and 19th century national pride. Patriotism, chauvinism and nationalism are the anteroom of fascism. Especially in this World Cup, I have never seen such a warlike and chauvinist approach, encouraged by the media, advertising and the national team technical commission. It sounds like we are going to war. In that case, if we are truly going to war, I am deserting.

2. Brazil is the United States of football: the imperial power, greedy and supremacist.
In what concerns football, Brazilians feel superior, they boast about themselves and they always want to win. Our arrogance, prejudice and greed when it comes to football, are clues of what we will be if we become a power in something that is really important. Moreover, think about the ridiculous rivalry with Argentina, about the greedy ambition of always winning, of feeling superior to all other peoples and countries just because we have more champion titles in football.

"Five reasons to be against Brazil in the World Cup 2010 and in all others" (Cinco motivos para torcer contra o Brasil nesta Copa e em todas as outras, pt), CC

Elio is not the only one thinking about war when reflecting on the World Cup. While comparing the football field to a battlefield, Cruz de Savóia [pt] believes both to be in the same level of importance, as both have equal power in bringing a nation together:

A camisa da seleção brasileira é o maior símbolo nacional deste país – inspira, muitas vezes, mais ternura ou ira do que a própria bandeira, do que o próprio hino. A seleção brasileira de futebol – ah, como se houvesse outra – é o mais poderoso símbolo da unidade nacional – é ela, afora talvez as Forças Armadas, a única coisa capaz, no mundo, de fazer com que um pernambucano e um paulista se vejam a ambos como brasileiros. Se um estado assim de coisas é bom ou mau, não sei – como, aliás, podem tanto a seleção como as Forças Armadas serem ótimas ou péssimas: tanto faz.

The Brazilian national team uniform is the biggest national symbol here – it inspires more tenderness or anger than the Brazilian flag itself or the national anthem. The Brazilian national team – ah, as if there was another! – is the most powerful symbol of national unity. Perhaps, along with the Army, it is the only thing in the world capable of making people from Pernambuco and São Paulo look at each other as being both Brazilians. Whether this state of things is good or bad, I don't know – like either the national team or the Army can be great or awful: it doesn't matter.

Nevertheless, in the opposite direction than the one presented by the blogs above, there are Brazilians who love football even though they will support teams other than the Brazilian team. In a post titled No nation gave me birth [pt], Carlos Vinicius Rosenburg explains why he is supporting the Brazilian rival on the field: Argentina. For him, the current Brazilian team does not play for passion or as enthusiastically as previous Brazilian star players such as Zico, Pelé, Romário or even Cafu who raised the FIFA World Cup Trophy in 2002, the last time Brazil won the World Cup. Carlos says:

(…) na Copa de 2010, eu vou torcer para a Argentina! Isso mesmo, para os hermanos. Estou saturado desse falso bom-mocismo, do falso moralismo, de tanta babaquice, caretice, dessa eterna falta do que falar (salve Lobo!) que impera na Seleção Brasileira. Torcerei para que a Argentina e Maradona ganhem a Copa, para que esse falso bom-mocismo saia de moda, para que esse ufanismo fabricado saia daqui e vá parar em Buenos Aires, porque as pessoas são brasileiras até que o juiz apite o final da Copa. Depois se esquecem e cortam a fila do compatriota no supermercado ou banco da esquina, ou matam uns aos outros por causa de uma fechada no trânsito. Quero que a Argentina ganhe porque eles têm um treinador que já é o grande personagem da Copa, que liberou sexo e vinho na concentração. Torcerei para uma das poucas seleções que têm torcida – sim, torcida de Seleção, coisa que não temos – aos hermanos juntam-se os ingleses e os sul-coreanos. Torcerei para a única seleção que me faz lembrar do Flamengo.

(…) in the World Cup 2010, I will support Argentina! Yes! That's right. The hermanos [brothers, Spanish]. I had enough of that faking-good behavior, hypocrisy, bullshit, outdated way, “of that eternal lack of something to say”  (Salve, Lobo) that reigns in the Brazilian team. I support Argentina and Maradona to win the World Cup so that the fake good behavior can get old-fashioned. This manufactured chauvinism can get out of here and end up in Buenos Aires, as people are only Brazilian until the referee blows the whistle to put an end to the World Cup. After that, they just forget about everything and go back to pass ahead of their compatriots in the supermarket or bank queues, or they simply go back to killing one another because of a traffic jam quarrel. I want Argentina to win because they have a coach who is already the greatest persona of the World Cup as he allows sex and wine in the training camp. I will support one of a few teams that has supporters – yes, national team supporters, something we do not have – alongside the Hermanos the English and the South Korean supporters. I will cheer up the only national team that reminds me of Flamengo.

Though Carlos supports Argentina, at the end of his post he didn't forget to include a postscript saying that he will celebrate the Brazilian goals as, reportedly, it is “almost impossible to resist the temptation to cheer up the Brazilian national team”.

There still is a possibility of Brazil playing against Argentina in the final. Video blogger Diego Sammet, compares both countries’ notions of World Cup patriotism in a video titled “Patriotism FAIL!” [pt]. His very strong arguments are presented while he wears a t-shirt from Argentina football team and invites everyone to reflect upon the geographical and ideological boundaries that patriotism represents.

This article was proofread by Manuela Tenreiro.

1 comment

  • In Brazil’s today , above all, we are a country of the world. We are patriots of Planet Earth, followers of all religions, cyberactivists. Our biodiversity is worth more than all the oil reserves discovered or not yet revealed. We have the largest reserves of potable water on the Planet. We are together with the nations of good will for a better world, ONE WORLD. We are ONe. Football (soccer) is only an sport, like all sports and just fun. What realy matters is freedom, equality and fraternity, a free minds in a free world! Best wishes from Brazil! Axé! follow-me on twitter: @quimbanda

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