Thursday, May 29

Football in Brazil...Part One-Introduction

I admit it. I love soccer. Ever since I watched the World Cup in 1982 with my German cousins, I was hooked. I had never seen such passion for a game that basically consists of 22 players running around after a leather sphere, trying to shoot it into a goal the size of a double garage door.
I witnessed Brazil's agonizing defeat at the hands of the French. World Cup quarter finals, 1986, Brazil vs. France. On one side the French, Platini, Fernandez, Tigana and Giresse. Brazil on the opposite side with idols such as Zico, Socrates and Junior. What a game!!!! Both teams playing with such finesse. Tied after 90 minutes of play, it was into overtime. Still no winner. The result had to be played out by penalty kicks. In the end, the French went on to the next round only to be beaten by the Germans in the semi's.
This was the first time I had seen Brazilian fans. They put the Red Mile in Calgary to shame.
But it wasn't until the 1994 World Cup that I really saw the insanity that soccer can cause to any normal person. Watching the final in a Franco Brazilian restaurant, Felix, in Soho New York, full of Brazilians, across the street another restaurant( Cincocento) full of Italians and Argentinians. Brazil vs. Italy. Penalty shoot out. If Brazil got it right, 'my'restaurant went nuts. When Italy scored, the other 'restaurant went nuts. Finally when Roberto "whats-up-with-the mullet-ponytail?" Biaggio kicked the final ball over the goalpost, the Brazilian fans went nuts. Tables in the restaurant suddenly became bongo drums, people were chanting, crying, hugging, kissing. Brazil had won its fourth World Cup after a 24 year drought. The party poured out into the street. It was so nuts that NYPD had to close the intersection of West Broadway and Grand.
Not even an imprompto street party prepared me for the Brazilian soccer fan IN Brazil.

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