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Brazil Lula and US Obama Engage in Soccer Diplomacy

Obama and Lula with Brazilian jersey Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva and United States President Barack Obama took time out from their overloaded Thursday agendas to talk about the United States' defeat to Brazil in last month's Confederations Cup Final played in South Africa.

"We'll never let your players overturn a 2-0 lead again," Obama quipped after receiving a Brazilian national football team yellow jersey, with the number 5 and signed by the whole team, including star Kaka, at the start of their morning meeting at the G-8 summit in Italy.

During their banter, which reporters partly heard through a translator, Lula spoke animatedly of the June 28 match between the US and Brazilian national teams in the Confederations Cup series. The game was a crushing loss for the underdog US team, who led at the midway point, 2-0, only to lose 3-2.

Lula repeatedly said, "Yes we can," which was Obama's campaign catchphrase and apparently what the Brazilian president had in mind while his team trailed. Obama smiled gamely; if he felt Lula was rubbing it in a bit, he didn't let on.

"Hey, look at this," Obama said of the jersey, signed by the Brazilian team's players. "Beautiful. All right, wonderful. I like that."

White House spokesman Robert Gibbs later said Obama ended his 30-minute session with Lula by patting the Brazilian's back and vowing "we will not lose a two-point lead again".

Obama and Lula's meeting, either their fifth or sixth according to Gibbs, was a last minute add to the US President schedule after President Hu of China had to leave the summit to tend to protests in Western China.

Brazil was invited to the G8 meetings as part of the G8 plus G5, a group that includes South Africa, Brazil, India, China and Mexico. Lula also gave his G5 counterparts a Brazilian national team jersey.

Mercopress

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  • Alan Williams

    Divided Loyalties
    As an American married to a Brazilian woman, (who is now naturalized American), our house was divided the day of the game. Normally I would cheer the Brazilian team on, but this time I had to go with the USA, as a matter of pride. When we were up at halftime, my son and I were blown away, while my wife and our Sao Paulo native & neighbor Sergio were in shock! They could not believe it. Had the day finally arrived when I could look at my family in Brazil and say that the USA had beaten them in their national game / obsession / religion?
    Of course, it was not meant to be that day. But soon, that day will come. And I await that day with anticipation and glee.

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