How would you fancy to have a job in a country where everybody else
knows about your work better than you do. That’s the daunting task of the national team
soccer coach in Brazil, land of 160 million soccer coaches.
By Rodolfo Espinoza
The Maracanã was packed. Built in Rio for the 1950 World Cup as the world’s largest
soccer stadium with room for 200,000 spectators this shrine to futebol, the passion
of nine out of 10 Brazilians, is still an impressive place despite the state of disrepair
in which it has sunk. The Maracanã was packed on April 29, with a crowd willing to give
the national team a good-bye party filled with applause, cheering and good wishes. After
all, this was their last game before embarking to France where the players intend to win
for the fifth time soccer’s World Cup trophy.
The cheers of Brazil pentacampeão though soon turned into jeers while a visibly
lost team couldn’t keep its eye on the ball and pose any serious threat to its adversary:
Argentina. Frustrated the fans started applauding the Argentines, who ended up winning the
friendly that was also a test of the Brazilian seleção, or national team.
The Brazil vs. Argentina game is emblematic of the situation the Brazilian national
soccer team is in. Favorite to win the Cup, with a spate of world-class stars, the team
made up of Brazilian soccer players playing in several countries, hasn’t had enough time
to practice together. And the applause-turned-into-boos shows that the Brazilian love for
its heroes is just skin deep, and that its apparent devotion is not more than a
The we’ve-already-won climate has fizzled fast. And many Brazilians seem to agree that
is the best that could have happened. Apparently humbled by the good-bye game results,
head coach Mário Lobo Zagallo assumed responsibility for the loss. "Going into
France, we’ll have to play much better," he said. "Argentina had a much better
rhythm and rhythm is very important. The Brazilian team didn’t play to my
This is the same Zagallo, who soon after the announcement on December 4, 1997, of
Brazil’s opponents in the first roundScotland, Morocco and Norway, gloated:
"We have killed three bunnies with one stone. There are only seven games before
Brazil becomes pentacampeão." Star player Romário, the most celebrated name
four years ago during the World Cup in the USA, also had words of self-criticism.
Despite all the self-flagellation at home, the land of futebol is seen as the
frank favorite by the rest of the world. In the 15 World Cups that Brazil participated, it
played 73 matches winning 49, losing 11, and tying 13 times.
The majority of coaches and players of the other 31 squads participating in the Cup
also seem to agree that the country is the favorite. Brazil is the only country that has
won four times the competition and experts say that the country hasn’t had such a strong
squad since 1982, when the seleção did not win, but gave a show of an
entertainingly superior game.
What’s wrong with Brazilians? They do not just expect their team to win every time they
play, they want also the players to put on a great show.
For the coaches this becomes mission impossible. Head coach Zagallo, pragmatic, defends
a more defensive and European style of game. Curiously, he was also at the helm in 1974
when Brazilians opted for this less flamboyant way of playing. The country came in fourth
place and Zagallo was harshly panned for what was considered a disaster, a national
Despite all the Brazilian misgivings the national team is also the favorite for
London’s bookmakers. Those betting on Brazil will get a skimpy 3 pounds for every pound
bet. Next in line are Germany, France and Italy, paying 4 to 1. England and Holland are
eight to one. Argentina is number seven in the ranking paying 12 to 1, followed by Spain
(14 to 1).
Commenting on the chances of Brazil in France, Reuters’s reporter, Brian Homewood,
wrote: "Brazilian soccer fans believe that a fifth world title is little more than a
formality for a team that boasts players such as Ronaldo, Roberto Carlos and Romário. But
Brazil’s opponents can take heart from the fact that the defending champions have learned
little from the mistakes made in the past.
"Over-confidence, a tendency for players to negotiate club deals during the World
Cup, and internal wrangling have all hit Brazil during previous tournaments and there are
indications that they could strike again in France.(…) The old story that Brazil could
be their own worst enemies also rings true. In past World Cups, particularly in 1990,
players have had their attentions divided by agents trying to negotiate transfers to new
clubs. This could happen once again. The Brazilian Soccer Confederation (CBF) has said
that it will not ban cellular phones, inseparable companions to most players, thus
enabling agents to be in permanent contact with members of the squad."
Too Many Stars
Brazil has a so-vast talent pool to draw from, that the country can afford itself the
luxury of not using superstar players such as Barcelona strikers Sonny Anderson and
Rivaldo, and Paris St Germain’s Raí. Brazil is a non-stop soccer player factory churning
out talented players, hundreds of which end up playing for foreign teams in Europe, the
Americas, India, Africa and Japan.
According to Ricardo Teixeira, president of CBF (Confederação Brasileira de
FutebolBrazilian Soccer Confederation), Brazil will spend close to $7 million with
the national team in its quest for the pentacampeão title. "Players will have
everything at their disposal," he said. "They will lack nothing." Every
player will get $150,000 or even $170,000 if Brazil gets the title. In the latest Cup in
the U.S., the prize was $130,000.
The seleção has already been calledand it is not hard to understand
whya "cauldron of vanities". These are super-inflated egos and some prima
donnas, getting millionaire salaries and undivided adulation in their own teams, who
suddenly have to share the spotlight with other big stars.
Sometimes it is hard to pinpoint where the playfulness stops and the mean jealousy
starts as an incident last December during the Confederations Cup in Saudi Arabia shows.
Led by Flávio Conceição and Zé Roberto, a group of rowdy players invaded one night
their colleagues’ hotel rooms and used an electric razor to shave their heads. A simple
prank? If it was, not everybody was amused. Midfielder Leonardo and defender Gonçalves,
for example, were reportedly fuming after the forced shaving.
One controversy that has dogged the seleção is the use of players over the age
of 30. There are many people who criticize the drafting of people like Aldair (32), Dunga
(34) and Romário (32), who were on the team that won the latest Word Cup in the US, but
who didn’t seem very inspired in several games in preparation for France.
Coach Zagallo himself excluded from the team other tetracampeões like Jorginho,
Raí, and Mazinho on grounds that they were too old. He seemed intent on striking a
balance between younger and faster players and those older, but more experienced,
promising at the same time a younger team. The squad that won the final game against Italy
in the 1994 Cup had an average age of 27.1 years with only two players over 30. This time
there are six players over that age. The team that will play the first game in France will
have an average of 28.4 years. When you compare the 22 draftees in 1994 and 1998 though,
there is a virtual tie: 27,4 and 27,3 respectively.
A Nation in
No other country has been more closely linked to the World Cup than Brazil. The nation
is the only one to have participated in every single international championship since its
1930 debut. Not that this always made any difference. In Uruguay in 1930 and then in Italy
four years later the Brazilian presence was meteoric. Brazilians played a couple of
lackluster matches before being eliminated. In 1930 they were eliminated after two games.
In 1934 it took only one match before they had to return home.
The first time around the dispute between CBD (Confederação Brasileira de
DesportosBrazilian Sports Confederation) and APEA (Associação Paulista de Esportes
AtléticosSão Paulo Association of Athletic Sports) prevented the participation of Paulista
players in the world competition. APEA insisted to no avail that a Paulista were
included in the national delegation’s technical committee.
By 1938 the Brazil team had improved considerably and gave already hints of the
powerhouse it would become. That year in France, Brazil got an honorabletoday it
would be considered a shamefulthird place. Leônidas da Silvacalled Diamante
Negro (Black Diamond) in Brazil and Rubber Man in Europewas that Cup’s hero, scoring
eight goals, more than anyone else.
When the games restarted in 1950 after a 12-year interruption due to the Second World
War, Brazil was already a futebol superpower. So much so that Rio de Janeiro was
chosen as host city for the 1950 World Cup. These were memorable times with Brazil beating
Spain 6 to 1 and pummeling Sweden by 7 to 1. Brazilians were sure they would be the 1950
champions and nobody could believe when the final result came in a muted Maracanã filled
with 200,000 fans: Uruguay 2, Brazil 1.
The presence of big names like Nilton Santos, Djalma Santos, Didi, and Julinho wasn’t
enough in 1954 in Switzerland. Brazil lost 4 to 2 to Hungary, being eliminated in the
quarters of final.
1958. This was a great time for Brazilians. A time of relative prosperity and
happiness, when every dream seemed possible. 1958 was also the year in which for the first
time Brazil won the World Cup and with this victory the feeling that from then on it was
entitled to it every four years. 1958 also brought the dawn of Pelé’s kingdom and the
incredible ballet of a crooked-leg player known as Garrincha. There was a glorious final
with Brazil beating the home team, Sweden, 5 to 2.
Pelé could barely help four years later in Chile. He got hurt in the second game and
was out. Amarildo took Pelé’s place and was brilliant. Garrincha kept on shining. Brazil
became champion for the second time in a row defeating Czechoslovakia by 3 to 1 in the
In 1966, Brazil was so full of self-confidence that head coach Vicente Feola drafted 44
players, enough to fill four world-class teams. Or so they thought. Total disaster. Pelé
and Garrincha were still there, but the Brazilian national team was sent back home in the
first phase of the competition.
1970 was another memorable year for the national soccer. Pelé and company, including
Tostão, Rivelino, Jairzinho, and Gérson gave a show to the world and were celebrated as
demigods by a cheering Mexican population. With a 4 to 1 victory against Italy, Brazil by
being a third time world champion closed an era in soccer history taking home the Jules
Rimet Trophy, which was then substituted with the current FIFA Trophy.
Then, there were 24 years of fasting. Even though Brazilians were always hopeful that
their team would make it, they were not particularly impressed with their seleção
in 1994 when they got the tetracampeonato. Before becoming tetracampeões,
in the intervening years between Mexico City (1970) and Los Angeles (1994), Brazil went
through a bumpy road. The seleção came in fourth in 1974 in West Germany and in
third four years later in Argentina.
In Spain, in 1982, Brazil gave a show, but once again didn’t make it too far, letting
the soccer bosses to start thinking that it was time to stop cultivating the so-called art
football and start playing a football of results. The new tactics allied to the presence
of stars like Zico, Falcão, Sócrates, Leandro, Júnior, Cerezo, and Éder, though, were
not enough and Brazil was eliminated by Italy.
France was the one who eliminated Brazil in 1986 with the games held once again in
Mexico. In 1990, under coach Sebastião Lazaroni, the seleção was full tilt in
what was derisively called the "Dunga Era" a reference to midfielder
Dunga, who is admired more for his physical strength than for inspired shots. Brazil was
out of competition in the eighths of final.
The same schemeuninspired and shameful for somewas used by coach Carlos
Alberto Parreira, in ’94 to win the World Cup in the U.S.. The presence of the duo
Romário and Bebeto and their individual talents were decisive for the Brazilian victory.
While the rest of the team was glued to the opponents preventing them from doing much, the
two gifted players were loose scoring goals. At the end Brazil won, but Brazilians were
not really happy. There was not their gameit ended in a scoreless tieand the
lackluster victory against Italy in penalty kicks didn’t dignify the national game.
When Brakes Fail
Brazilian players have had a rough time dealing with their own frustrations in the
field. Self-control is not something the national team can boast about. Temper outbursts
by Brazilian players have resulted in eight expulsions during world-cup games, or 11
percent of the 72 red cards flashed at the 15 world cups held until now.
And this is not only because the country has entered more world championships than any
other country. In comparison, Germany, which like Brazil played 73 games in world cups,
has had three expulsions. In 1994, for example, the Brazilian squad had to play against
the United States with only 10 players after Leonardo was expelled at the beginning of the
match. The Brazilian player hit with the elbow American Tab Ramos, who was taken to the
hospital with cranial traumatism.
In the 1970 Cup, Pelé hit an Uruguayan player with his elbow too. Spanish referee
Ortiz de Mendibil didn’t see it then, but it could have been just cause to expel the
player, possibly harming seriously the Brazilian team.
Has being Latin American anything to do with explosive temperament? Apparently yes.
Following in the list of teams with the largest number of expelled players is Argentina
with seven red cards, close followed by the Uruguayans (six expulsions). Scotland,
Morocco, and Norway, the three opponents of Brazil in the first phase in France never had
to deal with expulsions. Zagallo is worried with his compatriots’ short fuse and their
ability to commit fouls. FIFA has already warned that the referees will be less forgiving
than ever come June and July.
The Best and
Since winning the ’94 World Cup in the U.S., Brazil has maintained its number one
position on FIFA’s ranking. Germany, which was in first from 1990 to 1993 is now in second
place. Czechoslovakia surprisingly comes in third. Despite its lack of tradition in World
Cups, that team was the Eurocopa’s vice-champion in 1996. Mexico is fourth followed by
Chile is sixth, coming right before Argentina, the seventh on the list. Yugoslavia is
eighth. Morocco, which will play against Brazil in the initial phase of the Cup is the
tenth on the ranking. The other two Brazilians opponents on Group A are Norway and
Scotland, which are, respectively, 12th and 44th on the list.
Spain comes in 10th on FIFA’s ranking and Japan is a surprise as number 11. That
country never played a Cup. Curiously, Italy, which was vice-champion at the latest World
Cup is the 16th on the ranking. The United States comes before the Italians, being number
15 on the list. And France, the host of the games, is in a low 25th place.
Say Pretty Please
According to an Agence France Press report, the Brazilian government has prepared a
manual of good manners for Brazilians going to France to root for the national team.
Brazil nationals are not known for good behavior home or on overseas visits. In Orlando,
Florida, for example they are famous at Disney World for speaking loudly, not respecting
lines, and shoplifting.
The Itamaraty (Foreign Ministry) prepared a booklet teaching proper behavior and
precautions to be taken. Don’t drink too much, British hooligans are to be avoided and do
not respond to provocations, says the leaflet to be distributed at travel agencies and at
the airport. Brazilians are also advised to always walk in groups and to avoid
far-from-downtown neighborhoods at night.
THE A TEAM
The big surprise at the May 5 announcement of the 22 players chosen to represent Brazil
in the World Cup was not any name that was left out or unexpectedly included, but coach
Zagallo’s unheard decision to divulge the line-up for the Brazilian match to be held June
10it will be Brazil’s first game against Scotland. Here is the team: Taffarel,
Cafu, Aldair, Júnior Baiano, Roberto Carlos, Dunga, César Sampaio, Giovanni, Rivaldo,
Ronaldo, and Romário.
Pelé praised Zagallo for the announcement. "For the first time," the soccer
legend said, "the coach has had the courage to say who will be in the team. This is
what we needed to stop the speculation and have a team that can start training."
Here are the 22 players drafted to defend the Brazilian colors:
Cláudio André TAFFAREL (Atlético Mineiro, Minas Gerais state), 32 on May 8. Not
better than a dozen or so other outstanding Brazilian goalkeepers. Gets the nod for a
great job in two previous world cups.
CARLOS GERMANO Schwambach Neto (Vasco da Gama, Rio de Janeiro state), 27. He has shown
good performance while substituting Taffarel. Won Brazilian championship in 1997.
Nélson de Jesus Silva, DIDA (Cruzeiro, Minas Gerais), 24. Played for the national team
for the first time in 1995. He has no experience in world cups.
ALDAIR Nascimento Santos (AS Roma, Italy), 32. Made his debut in the seleção
against Ecuador in 1989. Drafted for his experience his more recent performance has been
less than brilliant.
ROBERTO CARLOS da Silva (Real Madrid, Spain), 24. This left-back became famous playing
for Palmeiras (São Paulo) during the mid ’90s. His devastating free-kicks are the terror
of every goal-keeper.
Marcos Evangelista de Moraes, CAFU (AS Roma, Italy), 28 on June 19. He has been a
right-back on the national team since 1995. Fast and reliable, despite some erratic
crossings. He played for São Paulo and Palmeiras, both from São Paulo, before moving to
Raimundo Ferreira Ramos Júnior, JÚNIOR BAIANO (Flamengo, Rio de Janeiro), 27. Has to
work his anger. A little too sanguine he is known to snap during the games and hit
opponents. This has brought him some expulsions. Likes to forward when there is chance and
has already made two goals for the seleção this way.
Marcelo GONÇALVES Costa Lopes (Botafogo, Rio de Janeiro), 32. Has played for five
years in Mexico. A natural leader, he debuted in the national team in 1996 against Russia.
José Roberto da Silva Júnior, ZÉ ROBERTO (Flamengo, Rio de Janeiro), 23 (24 on July
7). As comfortable as left-back as in midfield. In Brazil played for Portuguesa (São
Paulo) before going to Real Madrid in Spain and then back to Brazil to Flamengo (Rio de
MÁRCIO Roberto dos SANTOS (São Paulo, São Paulo), 28. He played in Europe at
Bordeaux (France), Fiorentina (Italy), and Ajax (Holland) from 1992 to 1996. He also was
on the Brazilian team that won the 1994 World Cup.
LEONARDO Nascimento Araújo (AC Milan, Italy), 28. At the ’94 Cup he was prevented from
playing most of the games after being expelled for elbowing an opponent. Arguably the most
articulated of all the draftees he usually scolds the media for their behavior.
Carlos Caetano Bledorn Verri, DUNGA (Jubilo Iwata, Japan), 34. He was criticized in the
’90 World Cup for being a symbol of an Europeanized style acquired by Brazilian soccer. In
1994 he had the honor to raise at the Rose Bowl, in Pasadena (California) the trophy won
by the Brazilian squad.
Carlos CÉSAR SAMPAIO Campos (Yokohama Flügels, Japan), 30. Firm, but little creative.
He secured this position for his performance at the 1997 Confederations Cup.
FLÁVIO da CONCEIÇÀO (Deportivo de La Coruña, Spain), 24 on June 12. Played for
Palmeiras (São Paulo). Debuted in seleção at the 1996 Olympics. Possesses a
treacherous kick, which enabled him to score three goals for the seleção despite
his midfield position.
RIVALDO Vito Borba Ferreira (Barcelona, Spain), 26. Played for Corinthians and
Palmeiras, both teams from São Paulo, before moving to Europe. Has been a better player
at his Spanish club than in the Brazilian national squad. The left-footed ace was made the
scapegoat of Brazil’s defeat at the 1996 Olympics.
DENÍLSON de Oliveira (São Paulo), 20. Head coach Zagallo has called him the closest
thing to an old fashioned-winger. This was in praise of still another left-footed player.
He started at São Paulo when he was 17 and will be joining Spain’s Real Betis right after
Dorival Guidoni Júnior, DORIVA (Porto, Portugal), 26 on May 28. Admired mainly for his
discipline, he does well the nitty-gritty work in midfield. Played for XV de Piracicaba
(interior of São Paulo), São Paulo, and Atlético Mineiro before moving overseas.
GIOVANNI Silva de Oliveira (Barcelona, Spain), 26. Has never played in a world cup but
was in 12 games from the national team since 1995, scoring four goals. Very skillful, but
sometimes seems just spaced out.
Ronaldo Luis Nazário de Lima, RONALDINHO (Internazionale of Milan, Italy), 21. Has
become a commercial pitcher for all kinds of products. The world’s top player seems to be
back to top shape after a period of less than brilliant games for its Italian team a few
ROMÁRIO de Souza Faria (Flamengo), 32. Much-celebrated Brazilian idol for his
brilliant game and five goals at the 1994 World Cup. Controversial and somewhat
undisciplined. He went back to Brazil and Flamengo in January after a second try with
Spain’s Valencia didn’t work out. Superb striker, he has scored 41 goals for the seleção
despite a bad attitude that kept him off the national team for long periods.
EDMUNDO Alves de Souza Neto (Fiorentina, Italy), 27. Despite his enormous talent the
explosive player almost didn’t make the final cut due to disciplinary reasons. His has a
very telling nickname: Animal. He scored 29 goals for Vasco da Gama during last year’s
Brazilian championship, a record, making his team the champion, but was also expelled from
a game seven times in 1997. He has also played for Flamengo, Palmeiras, and Corinthians.
José Roberto Gama de Oliveira, BEBETO (Botafogo, Rio de Janeiro) 34. One of the 1994
World Cup heroes he has had a shaky career recently, changing clubs six times in a
18-month period. Scored 33 goals in 66 seleção games. This will be his third Cup.
Some of the players who would have made it in any other national, but who were left out
because of the limit of 22:
Raí (Paris St. Germain, France), 33 on May 15. The toast of Paris, this debonair
midfielder has been featured on the cover of several French general interest and fashion
magazines. Started the latest World Cup as captain, but ended it on the bench due to his
poor performance. He has recuperated his former good shape since then.
Elber (Bayern Munich, Germany), 26. Famous in Europe, but practically unknown in
Brazil, from where he left at age 18. Had his first chance in the national team on
Donizete (Vasco da Gama, Rio de Janeiro), 29. Apparently back in shape after mediocre
stints at Portugal’s Benfica and Corinthians (São Paulo). Debuted in the seleção
Juninho (Atletico de Madrid, Spain), 25. Made his debut in the seleção in
1995. His star has dimmed somewhat after breaking a leg in February during the Spanish
André Cruz (AC Milan, Italy), 29. Didn’t play for the Brazilian national team since
1989. Plays as central defender and is well known for its explosive left-foot kicks.
How We Won
the ’98 Cup
In an exercise of hallucinating futurism, daily Folha de São
Paulo created a step-by-step scenario in which Brazil starts in the games on June 10
with a 1 to 1 tie in its match against Scotland and finishes as champion, defeating
England 3 to 1 on July 12.
June 10 in Saint-Denis, Brazil ties with Scotland 1 to 1.
June 16 in Nantes, Brazil defeats Morocco 4 to 1.
June 23 in Saint Étienne, Brazil beats Norway 4 to 2.
Eighth of Finals
June 27 in Paris, Brazil wins against Chile 2 to 0.
Quarter of Finals
July 3 in Nantes, Brazil defeats Spain 3 to 1.
July 7 in Marseille, Brazil and Argentina end up the regular time in a 3 to 3 tie.
Brazil wins on overtime with a penalty kick. Final result: 4 to 3.
July 12 in Saint-Denis, Brazil becomes pentacampeão after a victory by 3 to 1
In this scenario, host France ends up in third place and the US is eliminated in the
first phase of the championship after playing three games and winning only one, against
Iran, 2 to 1.
Among the most devoted soccer fans are Brazilian artists. Some of
Brazil’s best writers, painters, composers, movie directors and playwrights have also put
on their green and yellow shirts to celebrate futebol and the World Cup.
From June to July 12 the work of painter Rubens Gerchman will be shown in the
Esthétique du Football expo to be held at the Jerôme de Noirmont gallery at the upscale
Avenue de Matignon in the heart of Paris. For close to 40 years now Gerchman has been
fascinated by the world of kicks and goals.
For this exhibit he has drafted his own team, which includes present and past soccer
idols from Brazil and overseas, names like Denílson, Romário, Ronaldinho, French
Zinedine Zidane, and the old legends Beckenbauer, Cruyff, Didi, Garrincha, Pelé, Platini,
Puskas, and Zico.
Paris will be holding at least two other expositions dealing with futebol and
counting with Brazilian artists. One will be at Galérie Navarro, the other one at the
Louvre’s Carroussel from June 6 to June 30. The latter called Football Art will have
besides Gerchman other renowned Brazilian painters, namely Antônio Henrique do Amaral,
Siron Franco, Nélson Leirner, Roberto Magalhães, Cildo Meirelles, Glauco Rodrigues,
Daniel Senise, Carlos Vergara, and Cláudio Tozzi.
On the Shelves
Although extremely popular, soccer has inspired just a handful of fictional or
non-fictional books on the subject. The panorama has improved in the last few months
though. Eighteen new and re-released titles dealing with futebol were at hand at
the just held São Paulo’s 15th Bienal do Livro (Book Biennial). Among the
titles shown there was Enciclopédia de Todas as Copas do Mundo (Encyclopedia of
All World Cups) by Orlando Duarte, De Édson a Pelé – A Infância do Rei em
Bauru (From Édson to Pelé – The King’s Childhood in Bauru), a biography by Luiz
Carlos Cordeiro of the early life of Pelé, who decades after leaving Brazilian fields is
still known as the King of Futebol.
Journalist João Carlos Assumpção and Eugênio Goussinsky tell the history and
stories of all the Brazilian national teams since 1914, the year of the first World Cup,
in Deuses da Bola (Ball’s Gods). In Viagem ao País do Futebol (Journey to
Soccer Country), reporter Mário Magalhães brings to life 15 stories portraying the
little-known world of soccer players struggling to survive outside the wealthy Rio-São
New York-based journalist and musical producer, Nélson Motta, wrote Confissões de
um Torcedor (Confessions of a Fan). It is not a book about names and scores, but more
like a backstage-action diary of a soccer aficionado, who has followed the world cups
since 1966 and knows the underbelly of the beast and the way sex and drugs shape the
O Canto dos Meus Amores (The Song of My Loved Ones) by Armando Nogueira is a
collection of 101 columns about sports published by the author in the last five year at Jornal
do Brasil, a newspaper from Rio de Janeiro.
The soccer motto has also inspired psychologist Suzy Fleury to write Competência
Emocional – O Caminho da Vitória para Equipes de Futebol (Emotional Competence – The
Winning Way for Soccer Teams).
In the fiction field there is Onze em Campo e um Banco de Primeira (Eleven on
the Field and a First Rate Bench), a selection of futebol-inspired short stories
signed by such literary stars as Rubem Fonseca, Hilda Hilst, Carlos Eduardo Novaes, João
Ubaldo Ribeiro, and Sérgio Sant’Anna.
"Some of the tales are from the ’30s and ’40s, as the ones by Orígenes Lessa and
Alcântara Machado, when soccer was barely starting in Brazil," says Alberto
Schprejer, the owner of Relume Dumará, the publisher of the book. "Everybody reads
about sports and there are several authors who write about the subject. This only can
enrich our culture," he adds.
Also from Relume Dumará is Futebol é Bola na Rede (Futebol Is Ball in the Net)
by diplomat Márcio Ramalho. The volume discusses and presents solutions for what the
author sees as the present crisis of creativity in the Brazilian soccer.
Futebol Arte covers an even larger portion of the literary spectrum reuniting
under its cover novelists, poets, composers, social scientists, and newspaper columnists.
The close to 300-page work is being released by São Paulo’s publishing house Empresa das
Artes and presents authors such as Carlos Drummond de Andrade, Paulo Mendes Campos,
Gilberto Freyre, Chico Buarque de Holanda, Roberto da Matta, and Nélson Rodrigues. TV
show host Jô Soares and journalists Juca Kfouri, Sérgio Sá Leitão, Armando Nogueira,
and Sérgio Noronha, put together their own soccer dream team. something most Brazilians
seem to have equally done. The book also shows how intellectuals like Oswald de Andrade
and Lima Barreto reacted to the introduction of soccer in Brazil.
Another work is Brasil Bom de Bola (Brazil Good With the Ball), a picture book
that skips the soccer idols to concentrate on anonymous faces and lives. In a moving way
it presents Brazilians’ passion for soccer even in the poorest and most desolate areas. Brasil
Bom de Bola will be released on June 15, five days after the start of the World Cup,
at the Louvre Museum in Paris.
The work is part of the É Tempo de Brasil (It’s Brazil’s Time) photo-expo that
will also be shown in Great Britain, Holland, Spain, and Portugal.
Photographer Ed Viggiani coordinated the work that counted with 11 photographers and 11
writers including Luís Fernando Veríssimo, Ariano Suassuna, Aldir Blanc, Rita Lee, and
Marcelo Rubens Paiva, among others. Pelé wrote the preface.
On the Screens
Rare films have been made about Brazil’s soccer passion. Asa Branca _ Um Sonho
Brasileiro (Asa Branca A Brazilian Dream) by Djalma Limongi Batistaa
filmmaker from Amazonas state, released in 1981, is one such exception.
Now there is Boleiros _ Era uma Vez o Futebol (Ball Players Once Upon a
Time Soccer), a film that gave the initial kick late April on a series of full-length and
documentary movies on futebol. "There so much to tell about soccer, that the
subject would inspire at least 50 other stories," said Ugo Georgetti, the Paulistano
(from São Paulo city) who directed the film and whose critical acclaimed work uses
the memories of former soccer idols chatting on a bar as the conducting thread for their
funny and moving stories.
The film features some of Brazil’s best-known TV and movie stars including Antônio
Grassi, Flávio Migliaccio Lima Duarte, Cássio Gabus Mendes, Marisa Orth, and two former
soccer players: Luís Carlos (ex-Flamengo and Botafogo) and Zé Maria, who was in the 1970
winning national team.
Another Paulistano, Antônio Carlos da Fontoura, known for Rainha Diaba (Devil
Queen), has used Zico, one of the most popular soccer heroes of the past and today the
technical coordinator of the seleção, to make Uma Aventura do Zico (A Zico
Adventure), a story in which the former striker appears in two roles: himself and that of
a dangerous clone. Zico is scheduled to have its premiere in Paris on June 12.
On another front, GNT, a Brazilian pay channel, will present a three-part documentary
by directors Arthur Fontes and João Moreira Salles with soccer former idols and promising
stars. And Ronaldinho, for two years in a row considered the world’s best soccer player,
is the subject of another documentary: Ronaldo: Manual de Vôo (Ronaldo: Flight
Manual) to be shown on ESPN Brasil.
A movie about ace Romário is also on the works, but it will not be released before
1999. The Brazil-USA coproduction with a budget of 8.5 million will be directed by
American John Avildsen, the 1977 Oscar winner for Rocky.
Singing the Ball
Since Pixinguinha, Brazilian musicians have contributed their talents to celebrate
soccer’s national team. Legendary composer Pixinguinha created "1 a 0" (1 to 0)
to celebrate the first international title won by the Brazilian team, when it played
against Uruguay in 1919. Lamartine Babo, another treasure of Brazilian music, has composed
a series of tunes about futebol. The tradition continues. "No Fim Desses
90" (At the End of These ’90s), a reference both to our time as well to the 90
minutes that a soccer game lasts, is a frevo composed by Moraes Moreira and just
one of a series of tunes being rushed into the market as a contribution to futebol
fever. SporTv, a pay channel, is using the song as the Cup’s musical theme.
"This is my way to help the national team," said Moreira. "I would
rather stay in Brazil and party here. I will be going out in a trio elétrico (wired-for-sound
truck used during Carnaval in the Northeast) after every Brazilian victory. Veteran
Moreira, who raised to fame in the ’70s as one of Os Novos Baianos, is not new at this
game. In the 1982 Cup in Spain he composed "Sangue, Suingue e Cintura" (Blood,
Swing, and Waist) and repeated the dose in partnership with Pepeu Gomes for the Italy Cup
Three CDs with funk, rap, and rock tunes are also being released. Agita Brasil
(Stir Up, Brazil) from Sony, with an initial pressing of 500,000 copies is one of them. It
brings Ara Ketu ("Agita Brasil"Stir Up, Brazil). Gabriel O Pensador
("Brazuca"), J-Quest ("Pra Frente Brasil"Forward, Brazil), Jorge
Ben Jor ("Fio Maravilha"Amazing Fio, an old classic), Mestre Ambrósio
("1 a 1" 1 to 1), Planet Hemp ("Camisa 10 da
Seleção"National Team’s Number 10 Shirt), and the band Skank ("It’s a
Soccer’s Match", in English). Getting into step ska band Los Djangos (former
Kamundjangos) is releasing its first CD whose entrée is called "O Futebol".
Warner is betting that nostalgia will sell and prepared the album Paixão Brasileira
with traditional favorite tunes sung by bands like Katinguelê, Molejo, and Sem
Compromisso. The CD comes with 13 tracks. "This is on purpose," says Warner’s
marketing manager, Marcelo Maia. "Thirteen is the lucky number for master Zagallo
(the Brazilian coach)." The initial release is 250,000 copies, but WEA expects to
sell as many as one million CDs if Brazil wins the Cup.
BMG is launching Rumo ao Penta (Fifth-Time-Bound). The album contains new tunes
by Chiclete com Banana, Carrapicho, Neguinho da Beija-Flor, Ricardo Chaves and two older
tunes: "Voa Canarinho, Voa" (Fly, Little Canary Fly)a reference to the
yellow shirt of the national squad and Elba Ramalho’s jingle for Rider.
French Sony is going the extra mile, using the Cup to promote its singer, Baiana (from
Bahia) Daniela Mercury. A special musical clip shows the crooner in Arembepe (Greater
Salvador, state of Bahia), a hippie village by the beach, and in the streets of
Pelourinho, historic center of Bahia’s capital. Mercury appears dancing and singing
"Rapunzel", a track from Feijão com Arroz (Beans and Rice), her latest
CD. The one-million-dollar campaign will guarantee that the Baiana crooner is seen
in France every time Brazil plays.
The close-to-four-minutes clip will be shown at France 2, the channel with the
exclusive rights to transmit the Cup matches in France. "We are betting in Daniela as
France’s next summer artist," said Sony’s Raoul Castaing, the man in charge of
promoting Latin artists in France.
Other Brazilian musicians will also be invading France. They will be taking part in
official and less formal shows across French land. Among them É o Tchan, Skank,
Paralamas, Banda Eva, Tribo de Jah, Fernanda Abreu, and Gilberto Gil.
|No Fim Desses 90||At the End of These 90|
|Music and Lyrics by Moraes Moreira|
P’ra decidir nossa sorte
| To decide our luck
We don’t appeal to wars
By the sport’s nobility
To unite all the earth’s people
With art who leaves goes
Taking the big trump
Go, in France in Paris
To happily cross
The Arch of Triumph
This way it goes deep
Before our squad
The world will bow
And even the Eiffel tour
All that is needed
The dribbling, the improvisation
The scream of the fans
The genius of Mané Garrincha and Pelé
Now in another beast
The game you just invent
At the end of these ’90s
We want to be champions for the fifth time
In the country of Carnaval
And scream pouring their heart
And in the country of soccer
The sun rose prettier
To see our team play
And our team is like that
There is no bad weather
Rain or shine
To the eyes of who saw
Victory of Brazil
Soccer has won
How would you fancy to have a job in a country where everybody else
knows about your work better than you do. That’s the daunting task of the national team
soccer coach in Brazil, land of 160 million soccer coaches.
These days Zagallo and World Cup are practically synonym in Brazil. Every one of the
four times that Brazil won the trophy, Zagallo was there. Since the first one 40 years ago
in Sweden when he was the left winger in the Brazilian winning team. He was again in the
same position four years later when the Brazilians repeated their feat in Chile.
By 1970, in Mexico, he was the coach. That was the year Brazil became world champion
for the third time. And in 1994, when the Brazilian squad won the world title for the
fourth time, in the U.S., Zagallo was assistant to coach Carlos Alberto Parreira.
Mário Jorge Lobo Zagallo, 67, has lived all his life in Rio, but he was born in
Maceió, capital of the northeastern state of Alagoas. The workaholic and very disciplined
family man who doesn’t curse is a wealthy individual today and also a notorious tightwad
when it is time to pay his share of a bill in a restaurant, for example.
He lives in a luxury apartment at Barra da Tijuca with his wife Alcina and their
children Mário César, Maria Emília, Maria Cristina, and Paulo Jorge. Living on the same
apartment with them are cook Cida, cleaner Do Carmo, and Madalena in charge of pressing
the clothes. He makes $100,000 a month being $90,000 from his monthly salary from CBF
(Confederação Brasileira de FutebolBrazilian Soccer Confederation). He gets $5,000
for a weekly column at Rio’s Jornal do Brasil and another $5,000 for hosting Bate-Papo
com Zagallo (Chat With Zagallo) at Manchete TV Network.
At once religious and superstitious, he prays to the saints of his devotionSaint
Anthony whose day is June 13 is a favoriteand does not take chances with what might
bring bad luck. He piously believes that the number 13 brings him luck. And that is the
number of room or floor he will take in a hotel.
Despite all the barbs thrown at him when the seleção losesafter the
April 30 game against Argentina in which Argentineans won 1 to 0, a crowd shouted after
the game: burro, burro (moron, moron)Zagallo continues very popular on the
eve of the Cup. The day after the defeat to Argentina, for example, the majority of
Brazilians preferred to spare the coach and blame the players for the fiasco.
A poll showed that the majority of the fans approved of Zagallo work and there is no
concerted effort to oust him, even though there are quite a few disgruntled voices. By the
way, the reaction from Zagallo to the burro chorus was subdued and humble: "Burros
(jackasses) are intelligent," he retorted without shouting back any obscenity.
Typically, he does not take criticism with a smile though. In a heated exchange with
journalists during the recent Copa America, he took the offensive, declaring: "Let
them keep on criticizing me because it brings me luck. Brazil is going to be pentacampeão
(five-times champion) with Za-ga-llo.” At the end of that same competition, with the 3 to
1 Brazilian final victory against Bolivia, he unloaded on live TV: "Now you’re going
to have to swallow me.”
After the 1982 World Cup in which Brazil came in fourth place, Zagallo spent several
years training the squads of the oil-rich states of the Middle East. He used the
opportunity to accumulate some money, which has made his life a lot easier these days.
More than that, his work paid off in 1990 when, against all odds, his team from the United
Arab Emirates was classified to participate in the World Cup. He ended up leaving that
team in a dispute.
In an interview with weekly magazine Isto é, Zagallo denied being stubborn
("I am always changing.") or old fashioned as a coach ("I never saw someone
old fashioned being awarded the trophy as 1997 world’s best trainer.") He also
revealed that he does not ignore his critics, but reads them carefully and knows them by
name. He counter-attacks, however, saying that they know little about soccer:
"I know how to write and also how to talk. But they don’t know what I do on the
edge of the field. They forget that I didn’t have time for tactical training. Maybe people
are angry because I am victorious.
"My scheme today is 4-4-2 when people defend the 3-2-5 when the team attacks. The
rest is relative. You can make three or ten passes, the important is to be able to score a
"Despite what people say I never declared that we are favorite. We have a team to
put on a fight, but soccer is not basketball, in which Americans are invincible and end of
Carioca (from Rio) Jean Marie Godefrois Faustin Havelange is a powerful man. For
24 years he has been the supreme commander of FIFA (Fédération Internationale de
Football Association). According to his own account during this period he flew 19,200
hours to visit 194 of the 200 countries affiliated to FIFA. The only ones he couldn’t go
to: Afghanistan, Samoa Island and four former soviet republics. He has been received by
kings, presidents and prime ministers from these countries. In the U.S., for example he
met Ronald Reagan, George Bush, and Bill Clinton. In Russia he was received by Leonid
Brezhnev, Mikhail Gorbachev, and Boris Yeltsin. He also became a close friend of Saudi
Arabia’s King Fahd. His reign will be coming to an end, however, on July 12, the day the
Is he lucky? His answer to weekly newsmagazine Veja: "Lucky was my father.
In 1912 the bought a ticket for the Titanic. He was late and when he arrived at the
Southhampton port the ship had already left for its first and last trip. This is really
luck. My accomplishments owe nothing to luck and all to work."
He will be 82 on May 8th. Until then he will keep his busy schedule
shuttling between Zurich, in Switzerland, where FIFA is headquartered and any place in the
planet his job as soccer’s highest authority might take him.
Humble he never was and he collected more than a few foes during his career. He boasts
of having contributed to soccer like no other man and says that he is leaving FIFA’s
coffers crammed with $ 4 billion. He also seems sure that Swiss Joseph Blatter with his
blessings will be elected FIFA’s new president in the June 8 election in Paris against the
current president of UEFA (Union of European Football Association), Swedish Lennart
Johanson, an Havelange foe.
In recent interviews with the Brazilian press Havelange presents himself as soccer’s
savior. "When I arrived at FIFA in 1974, soccer barely existed," he told
Brasília’s daily Correio Braziliense. "There were no financial resources.
When I finish my tour of duty next July 12 I’ll leave $4 billion in the coffers. When we
assumed the presidency we found an old house in which no more than four people could
gather. We will leave close to $100 million in properties alone. Besides there were only
two competitions. The World Cup with 16 countries and soccer in the Olympic Games. Now, in
a four-year period there are 10 competitions. Before the teams had to pay their own way,
today FIFA pays everything in all competitions. France’s World Cup will have 64 matches
and every team playing will get close to $800,000."
He sees his mission as much more than advancing the soccer cause: "In our trips we
noticed the great number of abandoned children around the world. So, FIFA started a
project in 128 of the affiliated countries, furnishing instructors, material, and
financial resources. Soccer employs today close to 450 million people. It’s the world’s
largest employer. Every year soccer makes circulate in the world $250 billion. The world’s
largest company, General Motor’s, does $170 billion a year in business.
"Everyone has his moment. I would say that the most important in life is not to
know how to arrive, but how to leave. I am sure I accomplished my mission. During my time
at CBD (Confederação Brasileira de DesportosBrazilian Confederation of Sports) we
were three-time world champions, in 1958, 1962, and 1970. In 1974 I went to FIFA and tried
to apply there what I learned in Brazil in the sports side as well as the administrative
one. I return to Brazil because here is my permanent home, because here is my
Knock on Wood
"If macumba (voodoo ritual) won any game the
Bahia Championship would always end up in a tie."
Beach philosopher Neném Prancha, a Rio’s legendary beach soccer coach.
While the national team sweat their shirts in the fields in France, Brazilians will be
doing more than the expected cheering, prayers and good-vibrations energizing. Totally or
just-a-little superstitious they will go as far as to stay without showering the whole
tournament or even putting their fingers on an electric outlet and getting a shock, all to
boost the home team.
Soccer and mandinga (witchcraft) are an old and proved mix. Carlitos Rocha, who
became president of Rio’s Botafogo soccer club in 1948 won mythic status for the antics he
adopted to guarantee his team victory. His most outrageous practice was to have his pet
dog Biriba pee on the foot of the players for luck. He also forced the team to ingest
before the games what he called "miraculous eggnog."
Everyone seems to have their own recipe of what works. Rio’s daily Jornal do Brasil
ran in April a story about the trouble some might go to give the seleção that
extra help. Singer Paulinho Boca de Cantor, for example, revealed what he does: "When
things get tough, the solution is to go to the bathroom and flush the toilet. The bad luck
If in a winning team you don’t touch, the same rule applies for winning good-luck
tactics. In 1986, a group of Brazilian journalists went to watch the Brazilian game
together. As the home team won, the same group decided to sit at the same place in the
stadium the next time the Brazilian squad played. However, they arrived too late for the
third game, against Poland, and the seats had been taken by a group of Japanese. The
Brazilians had no doubt and as gently as they could they took the Japanese out. Result: 5
to 1 to Brazil.
Model Luciana Gimenez has her own recipe. The most important, she says, is to keep till
the end something that is working. During the latest World Cup she wore the same pair of
yellow cotton panties every time Brazil played. Naturally, she didn’t wash the minuscule
garment so not to wash away the magic. As everybody knows by now after the Brazilian
victory, this tactic really works.
Not sticking to a routine can be fatal. Actress Fernanda Torres still feels remorseful
16 years after the 1982 World Cup. She started watching the games in Brazil, always in the
same place with the same group of friends. Then she decided to go to New York and she was
there when Brazil played against Italy and lost. "I think part of the blame for that
defeat is on me," she says.
Those who know how these forces work have some rules: you have to wear the same shirt
every time there is a Brazil game (not washing it is a must); you cannot drink whiskey the
day before a game against Scotland, but pouring whiskey on the floor after a victory
brings good luck; it is also forbidden to go to the bathroom during a game, but you are
allowed to go and even stay there if Brazil scores a goal.
Rio’s socialite Vera Loyola will be watching the games at different places, always with
friends. But she will always take with her what she knows will bring luck to the Brazilian
players: Pepezinha, her Pekinese, who will be all dolled up in green and yellow ribbons,
the Brazilian flag colors. Says the Queen of the arrivistes: "Pepezinha has given us
luck for 10 years. All you have to do is place her in front of the TV set."
Singer-composer Moraes Moreira calls himself the João Gilberto of the World Cups for
his reclusive habits when watching the games. He doesn’t want anyone close by during the
Brazilian matches. "The important is the concentration," he teaches. He composed
the frevo "No Fim Desses 90" (At the End of These ’90s), a song that
could become this Cup’s hymn.
But he knows what will happen if Brazil loses. He recalls: "In ’82 I had composed
"Sangue, Suingue e Cintura" (Blood, Swing, and Waist). The song was a big hit
selling 100,000 singles. But Brazil lost one game and this was enough for the song to
become a symbol of bad luck. Nobody played it anymore."
History professor Carlos Pinheiro decided that placing his hand on an electric outlet
and enduring an electric charge was the best boost he could give Brazilian players. He has
done this for some time, but has grown skeptical since a game in which Brazil lost against
Argentina. If things get too bad though he could always try the unnerving strategy that
Nobody seems immune to the power of simpatia (magical charm). It is widely known
that then owner of TV Record, industrialist Paulo Machado de Carvalho, the man who led the
Brazilian delegations in 1958 and 1962Brazil was champion in both yearsnever
took off the brown suit he wore during the campaign. It is believed, however, that he
didn’t sleep with the same suit. Said he: "Thanks to my uniform, Brazil won the two
cups. Naturally, Pelé and Garrincha also helped."
After the totally unexpected defeat to Uruguay in the 1950 final in Rio, Brazilians
decided that some things had to be urgently changed. And change they did. Believing that
the white shirt they wore brought bad luck, the team national began to sport a yellow one.
In tune with the rest of the country and following the rule that you need to repeat
what worked in the past, the CBF (Confederação Brasileira de FutebolBrazilian
Soccer Confederation) announced its 22 draftees to the Cup on May 5 in the same
Intercontinental Hotelin São Conrado, a neighborhood south of Rioas it did
four years ago. Luiz Mendes, a presenter from Rádio Tupi was again invited to host the
ceremony. And the Brazilian delegation will once again lease a Varig plane to go to
All of this was done at the request of CBF’s president, Ricardo Teixeira, who does not
hide his superstitious self. Teixeira revealed that he insists on being always the first
to leave the bus or the plane when he is with the seleção. Teixeira also always
enters the field with his right foot.
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