Carnival Samba Takes Aim at World Cup in Brazil

This article, written by Mateus Coutinho, is a part of Agência Pública's special #CopaPública coverage, originally published on February 8, 2013, under the title Carnaval e Copa, será que dá samba?

With forced evictions and competing political interests surrounding the run-up to the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil, a group of concerned Carnival revelers in Belo Horizonte, Brazil have put the discord to a winning samba beat.

In January, a group of citizens created a marchinha [literally “little march” a music genre typical of Carnival] to recall who really benefits from the Cup. “Imagina na Copa” (Imagine in the Cup), by the composers Daniel Iglesias, Matheus Rocha and Guto Borges, won the city's second Marchinhas Contest.

Carnaval em Belo Horizonte. Foto: Agência Pública

Carnival in Belo Horizonte. Photo: Agência Pública

Launched in 2012 [pt] by the cultural agency Cria Cultura, the Marchinhas Contest – named after Mestre Jonas, in an homage to the musician from Belo Horizonte – was created to rescue the old carnival dances, with costumes contests and marches composed by the population. The award takes place in a ball where 12 marchinhas selected by contest officials evaluated by a panel, which then chooses the three finalists.

The champions are then chosen by ball attendees; the first place winner gets a prize of 5,000 reais (approximately 2,520 US dollars), second place 3,000 reais, and third place 1,000 reais. Last year, the winning marchinha was Na Coxinha da Madrasta [pt] (In the stepmother's (little chicken) thigh, a popular food, also served in banquets), which alluded to a controversy involving Belo Horizonte city councilman Leo Burguês [pt] and the thousands of reais he spent on catering provided by his stepmother's company.

Foto: Agência Pública

Photo shared by Agência Pública

It was the Cup's turn this year, as journalist and contest curator Brisa Marques explains:

O público começou a gritar o nome da marchinha antes mesmo de ir a votação do júri.

The audience started screaming the name of the marchinha even before it was voted by the panel.

Imagine in the Cup

With references to the evictions caused by Cup-related construction and to the interests of local politicians in the Cup, the lyrics started as a joke between friends, explains Daniel Iglesias, one of the composers:

Estávamos de bobeira em casa e o Matheus disse que queria fazer uma marchinha sobre a Copa, aí já falei ‘imagina na copa’ e fomos escrevendo a letra.

We were just playing around at home and Matheus said that he wanted to create a marchinha about the Cup, then I said “imagine the cup” and we went on writing the lyrics.

A soccer field near the house where Daniel and Matheus live might give way for the construction of a hotel for the Cup. Matheus comments:

É bizarro pensar que por causa da Copa vão destruir um campinho para fazer hotel.

It is bizarre to think that because of the Cup they are going to destroy a small field to make a hotel.

The victory of the marchinha surprised the members of the Local Committee of those Affected by the Cup. Committee member Fidelis Alcântara says:

Foi uma surpresa muito marcante, inclusive porque no começo do Comitê [em 2010] as pessoas achavam que era exagero nosso, e hoje já vemos a população entendendo melhor os impactos da Copa

It was a very striking surprise, especially because in the beginning of the committee [in 2010] people thought we were exaggerating, and nowadays we already see the population understanding better the impacts of the Cup

Listen to the song #imaginanacopa, by Daniel Iglesias, Matheus Rocha, and Guto Borges:

Derrubaram minha casa
Por um erro de arbitragem
Ai meu deus, essa copa do mundo
É uma puta falta de sacanagem!

Beagá não sai ganhando
Nem se for pra repescagem
Se o filho da babá é dono da bola
Vou levar minha pelada pra Contagem

Se na praça não pode vender pipoca
Se o Laécio tá fechado com a Coca
Se na Guaicurus só ta dando poliglota
Se o burguês pira nas mina de pi… Ôpa!
Se no rádio essa música não toca

They tore my house down
‘Cos of an arbitration faux pas
Oh my, this World Cup
It's a pain in the ass
People here gain nothing
not even in the play offs
If the nanny's son owns the ball [a reference to Mayor Mário Lacerda]
I'm going to take my game far from all
If we can no longer buy popcorn at the square
If Laécio has signed with Coca [a reference to Senator Aécio Neves]
If Guaicurus [central area] is going polyglot
If Burguês [city councilman] goes crazy with girls with di… Whoops! [a reference to a scandal involving transexuals]
If the radio station does not play this song

Paula Góes contributed to the translation of the lyrics of the song #ImaginaNaCopa. The blog #CopaPública [pt] is a citizen journalism initiative that reports how the Brazilian population is being affected by – and mobilizing against – preparations for the 2014 World Cup.

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