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How to Piss Off a Brazilian Soccer Fan

by Felipe Sant'Ana Pereira Jun 16, 2014
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Remind us of the maracanazo.

On a Sunday afternoon in 1950, Uruguay came from behind to win against Brazil in the World Cup’s final match, leaving the 200,000 fans overcrowding the Maracanã stadium absolutely mute. The maracanazo (something like “the Maracanã stadium blow”), considered the worst disaster in soccer history, took shape eleven minutes before the end of the game, with a goal scored by Ghiggia, who later declared: “The silence was such that, if a fly passed by, we’d hear its buzz.”

The mere recollection of the episode is enough to kill the mood of anyone who experienced the 1950 World Cup, and its retelling gives goosebumps to those who were born after.

Praise Galvão Bueno.

Galvão Bueno, the most famous voice in Brazilian TV, has narrated eight World Cups (including two won by Brazil), the Formula One titles conquered by Ayrton Senna, and some Olympic games. And, after making several live blunders, he gave rise to a social-media movement called Cala boca, Galvão (“Shut up, Galvão”), forcing his TV channel to lower the ambient volume inside soccer stadiums to muffle the sounds of the crowds swearing at him in chorus.

It’s impossible for any Brazilian soccer fan not to think of Galvão Bueno when a World Cup approaches. But this is about to change. Galvão’s already announced his intention to retire from World Cup commentating after 2014 in Brazil. The crowd cheers.

Employ some Argentinian gamesmanship.

This strategy’s been working for decades. If you speak Spanish, wear the blue and white jersey, and start faking an injury or provoking any of our players, we’ll be pissed. And our team as well.

Tell us soccer is corrupt and the results are fixed.

At the 1998 World Cup, Brazil’s best player, Ronaldo, fell mysteriously sick before the final and couldn’t play. Brazil lost the match to France, igniting conspiracies. In the 2002 World Cup final, it was Ronaldo’s deftness (and two howlers by German goalkeeper Oliver Kahn), that won the world title for Brazil.

Three years later, 11 games in Brazil’s national tournament were annulled due to a bribery scandal involving referees. The trophy was taken from the hands of the actual champions and given to Corinthians, a soccer club that built a private stadium with taxpayer money intended to fund the World Cup.

The Brazilian soccer fan has seen all of this. And more. But don’t you dare say our beautiful game is just make-believe. After all, there’s hardly any money flowing behind the scenes…

Look down on our national league because we send all our young talent to Europe.

Yes, we export our jewels early. Ronaldinho went to Europe when he was 20. Robinho, when he was 19. Pato, 17. But it’s also true that the Brasileirão, our league, has been bringing back many of these idols lately: Ronaldo, Ronaldinho, Adriano, Robinho, and Pato are just a few examples of stars who returned from Europe to play in their homeland.

At the end of the day, the Brasileirão is commonly said to be the most challenging tournament in the world and therefore the most exciting to watch, and the one which least deserves to be looked down on.

Argue about which is the strongest regional rivalry in the country.

Gaúchos (people from Brazil’s southernmost state) will defend their local derby. Corinthians’ fans will mention their rivalry with neighboring Palmeiras. Cariocas (people from the state of Rio de Janeiro) will refuse to speak about anything besides FlaFlu, their famous regional derby.

As my grandma would say, there’s a Brazilian triad you should never argue about: politics, religion, and soccer.

Defend the referee, the linesman, or, even worse, the lineswoman.

In Brazil, soccer referees are universally seen as evil people. The linesmen, in their lonely and cursed task of applying the offside rule and disallowing goals, are declared guilty for almost any defeat.

The situation is even worse for lineswomen. Lineswomen were already being harangued and provoked before Ana Paula Oliveira, the most famous lineswoman in the country, posed nude for Playboy after being withdrawn from the national league for mistakes she committed. After this episode, noise-canceling headphones are definitely recommended for lineswomen on duty.

Maintain the same coach for a few years.

Brazil’s national team has never had the same coach for more than six years. For a club, retaining a coach for more than two is cause for celebration — probably not a long-lasting one. A bad spell always comes, the responsibility falls on the coach’s shoulders, the club brass yields to the pressure of the fans, and the cycle goes on.

Get litigious.

In 2013, after a controversial court ruling secured them a spot in the first division, Fluminense (a popular soccer team from Rio) became a target of ire for fans of all the other clubs in the country. Portuguesa, the team that was relegated to second division in Fluminense’s place, received support and sympathy while struggling, unsuccessfully, to repeal the court’s decision to deduct points from the club.

Later, Portuguesa signed a sponsorship deal with a carpet company (“big carpet” is the Brazilian expression for dubious court appeals executed by soccer teams). Then, they threatened to play the second division wearing Fluminense colors, and team management considered quitting the championship all together. Portuguesa is just one example. Every Brazilian soccer fan hates court actions (the “big carpet”). Kind of the way Europeans hate Brazilian divers who play in their leagues.

Forbid the sale of beer inside stadiums.

I was too young to pay much attention when the ban on alcohol sales in Brazilian soccer stadiums went into effect. But, judging by the enthusiastic way news of the ban’s reversal has been received, I’m pretty certain fans must have been truly irate when the prohibition was made.

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