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How I learned To Stop Worrying And Broke Up with Brazil

May 20, 2012

Kaka: he loves Jesus, a lot, and that scares me.


As you may have noticed, I haven’t truly been writing for the last nine months or so.

Yes, I still follow the game, and I continue to obsessively play FIFA on my PS3 (most recently, I won the Champions League with Fulham – Fulham! – and I dare you to achieve that unlikely glory!)

However, yes, I kind of dropped the ball a la Robert Green versus the USA, and I simply stopped posting regularly.

Mainly because I got bored. And I believe the source of my boredom is due to the lack of international competitions at the moment. I’m still one of those last romantics on Earth who actually believes World Cups and Euro championships are more exciting than the Champions League or the play-offs of the nPower League (this last remark is a sarcastic one).

Make no mistake, I understand, on an intellectual level, that the quality of the football we see at a UEFA Champions League is vastly superior to what we see at an Euro, or even at the World Cup level.

But romanticism goes so well with football. The metaphors for life and cultural identity, elements so central in footballing history, work much better when we deal with international competitions of national squads.

I believe that’s what I’ve learned about myself, as I decided to first start writing about the game here on this blog, nearly two years ago: I love “flawed”, romantic football.

On the other hand, I’ve been inspired to return here to ramble about the game after witnessing magic in two very special club matches this season: Manchester City V. QPR and Bayern Munich V. Chelsea.

I have no special bonds or serious appreciation for any of those sides, and aside from the obvious moments of sheer, compelling madness that made those games historical (Aguero’s winning goal and Drogba’s redemption), what really caught my eyes was the fact that, during celebrations, several players from the winning squads wrapped themselves in the flags of their birth nation.

City’s Dzeko wore his Bosnian flag like a large napkin, hanging from the collar of his shirt; Chelsea’s Ramires sported his Brazilian flag like a super-hero cape – as did City’s manager Roberto Mancini with his Italian one.

I found that display both bizarre and intriguing – and, of course, romantic.

Sure those players were out there busting their arses for their clubs, but, at heart, they were there representing their countries, the football of their nations.

Let’s face it, Man City are hardly an English squad: owned by a foreign oil tycoon, their starting team features only two or three England-born players. And yet, they represent the city of Manchester.

Personally, I have absolutely no problem with that. None. I long ago have embraced the idea of a globalized world where political borders bear little relevance and patriotism and/or regionalisms little significance. I am, myself, a product of that world: born in Brazil to a father whose first language is German and a mother who’s Italian-Portuguese, I have lived in Canada for the past decade and am currently packing my bags to move to London, England.

Borders are overrated.

And yet…I’m incredibly romantic about national identities when it comes to football. Mainly because national teams tend to display a sort of fun stereotype of their countries. Germany are organized and efficient, Brazil are all dance-like and loose, England are rather uptight and serious, etc…

I’m romantic about it all because, as I said, these are fun, stupid, colourful stereotypes. In other words, they no longer represent what these countries have become in the 21st century, and so there’s an air of absolutely bullshit nostalgia to the whole thing that satisfies my natural tendency to be romantic.

It’s also possible that the whole thing is tied to my being a man of the theatre, and I’ve been trained to find romance in the most ridiculous of situations.

BUT, my actual, main, point that I wanted to bring up here is that, lately, as I prepare to get all romantic during Euro 2012, I’ve been analysing the fact that I support Brazil.

I had never analyzed that fact before. But lately I have been. It used to be just a “I was born there” type of reasoning, but things have now changed…

I guess it’s because, after a decade of living abroad – indeed, my entire adult life away from the homeland – I’ve finally developed feelings of complete detachment from Brazil.

The thought hit me harshly as I watched David Luiz sport a t-shirt that read “God is loyal” while he celebrated Chelsea’s victory.

I am not a religious person, like, at all. At. all.

In fact, I’m highly terrified of the idea of faith and belief in a man in the clouds. I mean no disrespect by that, but the point is that it is contrary to my nature. I was born in a highly religious society but, from a very early age, I used to look around and think “I have nothing in common with these people.”

I also found it hard not to be simultaneously amused and absolutely scared when people broke into “tongues.”

I mean, really?!

Of course, I have many other things that are true to my nature and they are “very Brazilian” (have you ever tried chicken hearts barbecued in a Gaucho spear? It is divine).

However, mysticism and spirituality and all of that stuff is very, very central to Brazilian life and culture. And I have none of it.

Remember when Brazil won the 2002 World Cup, and then the players formed a massive circle around the centre of the pitch, dropped to their knees and started to pray ferouciously?


And how about when Lucio hoisted the 2009 Confederations Cup trophy whilst wearing a shirt that read “100% Jesus”?

And later, at an interview, when asked about his thoughts on same-sex marriage, he – our Captain – said “I think it’s wrong, it’s a sin.”

Sure, he is entitled to his opinion, obviously. But my point is: he doesn’t represent me. And neither does the Brazilian football team, really.

Every goal celebration is a nod to the skies or an evangelical cry…it’s all truly alien to me.

Of course, on an intellectual level, I understand the mind-frame of those boys. Most of them grew up in extreme, extreme poverty. And them becoming football stars and millionaires can only be explained, in their minds, by the miracle of divine intervention.

On some level, that belief is kind of sweet. It shows a form of humility. But, on another level, it is crazy.

In fact, FIFA is so put off by Brazil’s over-the-top religiosity that they have placed an official policy banning religious propaganda at their events and competitions. And yet, Lucio and David Luiz and all of those guys continue to display their militant nonsense that only stimulates more division between people.

In short: since I no longer care about any notions of patriotism, I have been thinking about no longer supporting the Brazilian side – at least not so passionately. I’ve always considered myself a passionate fan, but, honestly, Mano Menezes’s Brazil do not deserve 1/3 of my natural passion for them.

No, this “trial separation” from Brazil isn’t a reaction to the absolute shite football Brazil have been displaying since Mano took over – not at all.

It is merely the result of an accumulation of many personal frustrations over the years.

I shall strive to become more like my football-reporter idol Juca Kfouri, I think. Juca loves football. He is a Corinthians fanatic and is very, very passionate about the beautiful game. But he is also a non-believer and is a lucid critic of the overly spiritual approach to the Brazilian game.

Brazil could use more guys like that, so I think I’ll give it a go and be a bit more composed, personally detached, from Brazil’s football culture.

It will also make matters easier after we crash out of the World Cup in ridiculous fashion in 2014.

No, I do not think Brazil will win on home soil. It is highly unlikely.

…I have no idea what this post is about any more.

I started in one place, then moved to another one, on romanticism in international football, and then ended up breaking up with Brazil and proposing an affront to their religious customs…

I’m going to play with my Playstation.

Go Fulham!



One Comment leave one →
  1. Ikki from France permalink
    May 21, 2012 7:13 pm


    David Luiz sported another of his “Deus é fiel” t-shirts after the UEFA Champiosn League final. I was under the impresson UEFA had rules against religious messages. I wish people would leave their religion out of sports.


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