Brazil’s Shameful National Team

     Brazil's Shameful National 

    None of Brazil’s star
    players took part at the recent Copa America.
    These part-time patriots decided they were too "tired" after
    their lengthy commitments in Europe to turn out for their country.
    The fans, who actually pay to see the game, were presented
    with inferior goods. These stars should be ashamed of themselves.
    by: John

    The Brazilian victory against Argentina in the Copa America football championship
    was a hollow one. The team was outplayed by its Argentinean rivals and the
    game itself was pretty dreadful, enlivened only by an exciting goal in the
    last 15 seconds of extra time which allowed Brazil to win on penalties.

    No wonder the streets
    of São Paulo were quiet afterwards and everyone went back to the normal
    Sunday evening routine of ordering a pizza and getting ready to go back to
    work on Monday morning. Brazil also won the semi final match against Uruguay
    on penalties so, despite the eulogies in the press, we cannot regard this
    as a triumph.

    At the same time, it has
    to be acknowledged that this was a B side. None of the star players like Ronaldo,
    Ronaldinho Gaúcho, Roberto Carlos or Kaká took part. These part-time
    patriots decided they were too "tired" after their lengthy commitments
    in Europe to turn out for their country, especially in a mere regional championship
    like this one.

    The national manager,
    Carlos Alberto Parreira, the Brazilian Football Confederation (CBF) and the
    ruling international body FIFA agreed that these overpaid, pampered players
    did not need to turn out.

    This meant that the fans,
    who actually pay to see the game, were presented with inferior goods. Can
    you imagine going into a restaurant and being told that the "fresh salmon"
    on the menu is actually frozen fish fingers but it’s still called wild salmon?

    These stars should be
    ashamed of themselves, especially Ronaldo, who once tried to have the number
    of goals credited to Pelé in international matches reduced, and Kaká,
    who has only been in Italy for about a year.

    It is only a pity that
    the B side did not produce any outstanding player who could replace them.
    Although Adriano scored seven goals and was hailed as the best player, he
    is still no threat to Ronaldo or Ronaldo Gaúcho while up and coming
    stars like Alex and Diego were a bit disappointing.

    The game was also marred
    by the team switching from its famous green and yellow shirts to a boring
    white shirt bearing the symbol of the CBF to receive the trophy.

    The shirts did not have
    the players’ names on the back and the move was nothing but a marketing gimmick
    by one of the multinational sports clothing and equipment companies which
    I won’t name since it gets enough free publicity elsewhere.

    One final complaint, which
    is more serious than the others, concerns the cavalier way in which Parreira
    allowed the defender Luisão to remain on the field after he had clashed
    his head against an Argentinean player. Luisão fainted and was clearly

    However, he was allowed
    to return to the field where he stayed for another 20 minutes before fainting
    again and being rushed to the hospital. How a football manager can treat one
    of his players like this without being reprimanded is scandalous and shows
    the lack of concern the CBF has for some players as well as fans.

    For Portuguese Eyes

    Guess where President
    Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva is at the time of writing? At his desk in Brasília
    trying to meet his election pledge to double the real value of the minimum
    wage by 2006? Visiting poor rural areas to see how the Zero Hunger campaign
    is operating?

    Meeting business leaders
    to try and find ways to create new jobs? Creating new policies which will
    lead to a fall in Brazil’s sky-high interest rates? No. Our President is visiting
    the African island state of São Tomé e Príncipe for a
    summit meeting of an organization called the Community of Portuguese Speaking

    This outfit, created in
    1996, groups Brazil, Portugal and a handful of the world’s poorest countries
    which Portugal abandoned virtually overnight in the 1970s after exploiting
    them for centuries.

    What this meeting of Portuguese-speaking
    presidents will achieve is a mystery, but Lula obviously thinks it merits
    his attendance. (I contacted the CPLP, as it is known, about two years ago
    and asked for some information about its aims, membership and finances but
    so far have not had a reply.)

    From São Tomé
    e Príncipe Lula will visit a more economically successful African state,
    the former French colony of Gabon which is rich in oil. From there it is back
    to normal with a visit to another poverty-stricken remnant of the Portuguese
    empire, Cape Verde, before returning to Brazil.

    Maybe this summit will
    be some kind of compensation for the Portuguese who need to feel they are
    big players on the international stage after being defeated at home in the
    final of the European championship by rank outsiders Greece.

    Land of Peace and Love

    Many foreign visitors
    to Brazil are surprised by the large number of Japanese we have here, particularly
    in the São Paulo region. In fact, these people are generally not Japanese
    but Brazilians of Japanese descent.

    They form only around
    0.7 percent of the national population—about 1.3 million people—but
    in São Paulo state they are reckoned to make up about 8 percent.

    The Japanese first started
    emigrating here almost a century ago and events are being planned to mark
    the centenary. They have thrived here and are totally integrated, with none
    of the xenophobia and coldness which is often associated with real Japanese.1

    This ability to make people
    from different races assimilate and feel at home is one of Brazil’s greatest
    attributes. A newspaper recently featured cases of Brazilians of Arab and
    Jewish background who had married in a way which would be almost unthinkable
    in the Middle East.

    This is not the case in
    other Latin America countries such as Argentina, where Jewish institutions
    have been bombed and dozens killed, Bolivia, Peru and Mexico where Indians
    still resent the imposition of Spanish culture and Guyana where the descendants
    of African slaves and East Indian indentured workers distrust each other.

    We foreigners are lucky
    to live in such a country.

    1 For more
    on Japanese and other Asian groups in Brazil see my article "Feijoada
    with Soy Sauce" published last year in Brazzil –

    John Fitzpatrick is a Scottish journalist who first visited Brazil in 1987
    and has lived in São Paulo since 1995. He writes on politics and
    finance and runs his own company, Celtic Comunicações——which
    specializes in editorial and translation services for Brazilian and foreign
    clients. You can reach him at

    © John
    Fitzpatrick 2004

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