Five-times world champions Brazil have not only millions of fans back home in South America, but also a global following. Arunava Chaudhuri ponders why.
Brazil wins the Confed Cup in Germany, 2005
In Brazil football is more than just a game, it is more like a religion. And footballers are the biggest export of the South American nation. Not just the success of the national team, the skilled Brazilian players too have caught the imagination of football lovers across the globe. For many people the first thing they think of when somebody mentions Brazil is likely to be: football.
If one could do a global survey on Which National Team Would Be Your Favourite Side Apart from Your Own National Team, the most likely answer would be: Brazil. Some would even go to the extent of saying that they prefer the Brazilians to their own national team - football fans in south Asia, for example.
The “Selecao” (Portuguese for team), as the Brazilians are called back at home, have fired the imagination of football fans all over the world with their attacking style of football and their highly technical game – in other words, the Samba rhythm of Brazilian football.
Further, the real life stories of some Brazilian footballers, how they made it from the Brazilian slums to the pinnacle of world football, are the stuff that dreams are made off. Just take the example of world class striker Ronaldo, who was a Favela (Portuguese for slum) child without a future unless he made it big in football. And there are many such examples.
Since the 1950s, when a young 17 year old boy called Pele won the World Cup for Brazil in the 1958 World Cup in Sweden, something special has always been attached to Brazilian football. While teams like Germany and England were seen to work and to fight, Brazilians danced through their matches. Their main aim seemed to be to entertain, and then win something in the end, which has cost the Brazilians a World Cup title or two – not to speak of the matches they lost. This attitude seems to have changed in the past decade as more and more Brazilian footballers earn their living in Europe. Here they learn the nitty-gritty of tactics and organisation. This means that Brazil has lost some of its shine, but success on the world stage has more than made up for that loss.
Why do people - who do not support Brazil - still fancy them?
Christian Maier, a diehard fan of his own national team, which is Germany, says: “I do not support Brazil, but I love to see them play football. It‘s attractive to watch, unlike the way our own Germans often play.”
IndianFootball.Com editor Chris Punnakkattu Daniel says: “The Brazilian style of play is a mix of individual technical brilliance and the flavour of Samba. These elements combined with success at international level has always cast a spell over football fans worldwide. I am just one of those,” Chris adds.
Calcutta-based Anirban Mitra says: “My love for Brazilian football started when I saw Pele playing at the Eden Gardens here in Calcutta – that was for New York Cosmos in 1977. I had heard a lot about their football but had never seen them in action. On that day in Calcutta, I became a fan of Brazilian football - and have stayed that way. When they play in the World Cup in Germany this summer, they’ll have my support!”
Cyril Alias who lives here in Germany says: "To me, Brazil is the most outstanding national team in the world because of their style of play. They celebrate football on the pitch. And Brazil has had some of the best players in football history: Zico, Romario, Ronaldo and, of course, the greatest of them all, Pele. Another speciality of Brazil is the massive accumulation of talent everywhere, throughout the country. Although often living in grinding poverty, many of these players manage to cut their own path to fame and glory.”
Somehow one gets to hear the same things over and over again, when it comes to Brazil and their football: they play a technical game, they have something special and they are great to watch. A global fascination, which could help Brazil this summer in Germany - or it might also be a burden, as Brazil star Ronaldinho highlighted this week. The World Footballer of the Year said: “From Brazil you expect something special, the normal game will not do. This could be dangerous for our team.” Ronaldinho has netted the ball again, true to form. The pressure on the Brazilians will be huge. I remember last summer’s Confederation Cup group game between Brazil and Japan, in Cologne. Most of the fans were neutral and had come to watch Brazil. But as the match progressed, the Japanese put pressure of the Brazilians who just could not play their natural game. At the end of the match, most of the neutral fans where supporting Japan. All this could spell trouble for the star-studded Selecao, even with Ronaldinho, Ronaldo, Kaka, Adriano and Robinho out there on the field.