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Brazzil - Behavior - July 2004

Brazil Acts As Portugal's Colony

Brazil's TV Record coverage of the European football championship
was unacceptable. For this reason, it was good to see Greece beat
Portugal in the final even though one could share the disappointment
of the Portuguese fans. TV Record closed its transmission fast
and we did not see the Greek team receiving its trophy.

John Fitzpatrick


Picture Brazil declared its independence from Portugal in 1822 but if you had watched the television coverage of the European football championship you would have thought Brazil was still under the Portuguese heel.

Only one non-subscription station, TV Record, showed the games and the commentary when Portugal was playing was scandalously biased. The commentator made no attempt to hide his support, urging the team on—"vai, vai, Portugal!! (go, go, Portugal)—and stretching his vocal cords to the limit with exaggerated "GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOl" calls whenever the team scored.

Not only this, but he kept making cozy references to the Portuguese "colony" (colônia) not community (comunidade) in Brazil as though we were still living in colonial times.

The fact that several of the teams Portugal faced, such as Spain, England and Holland, also have substantial communities here was barely mentioned. The Dutch even colonized a part of the Northeast for about 30 years and left their mark on places like Recife, while it was the English who brought the Portuguese crown to Brazil to flee Napoleon's armies.

This biased coverage assumed that Brazilians should automatically be supporting Portugal even though few people have any direct relationship with Portugal and many other nationalities, including Italians, Germans, Russians, Japanese, Lebanese, Armenians have done more to develop Brazil than the Portuguese ever did.

Greeks are not thick on the ground here but there is a Greek community—and Brazilians of Greek descent—whose feelings were totally swept aside in an insulting manner.

One understandable reason why many Brazilians were rooting for Portugal was the fact that the Portuguese manager, Felipe Scolari, and one of the team's top players, Deco, are Brazilian. Scolari led Brazil to its World Cup triumph in 2002, but headed off to Europe immediately afterwards.

Another reason was that one of Portugal's top player, Figo, plays alongside Brazilian idols, Ronaldo and Roberto Carlos, as well as English superstar, David Beckham, for Real Madrid.

Despite these points, TV Record coverage was unacceptable. For this reason, it was good to see Greece beat Portugal in the final even though one could share the disappointment of the Portuguese fans as they watched their team's hopes fade away in their own capital.

TV Record closed its transmission within a minute of the final whistle and we did not see the Greek team receiving its trophy. You can be sure this would have been shown in its entirety had Portugal won.

Making Haiti a Political Football

Talking of football, the Brazilian national team might be playing in strife-ridden Haiti in August. The idea is to try and disarm the gangs and militias which have made this poverty-stricken country the poorest in the western hemisphere and an economic basket case.

A contingent of Brazilian troops is there at the moment, heading a United Nations peacekeeping force, and if stars like Ronaldo, Ronaldinho Gaúcho and Kaká could help bring about an end to violence then they would make the troops' tasks easier.

However, there are already reports that Brazilian diplomats are worried that instead of promoting peace and love the match could lead to the opposite, with rival gangs fighting to get admittance.

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 - www.celt.com.br - which specializes in editorial and translation services for Brazilian and foreign clients. You can reach him at jf@celt.com.br.
© John Fitzpatrick 2004

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