World Cup 2014: Brazil’s National Anthem A Capella Style

Brazilplayers prepare for their national anthem

Brazil players prepare for their national anthem

I don’t really do national anthems.  This might be because I see them lazy, nationalistic and usually crap tunes.  Or it might be because I am English and I reckon we have a terrible anthem.  Not only does it sound like a dirge, but for somebody who doesn’t believe in god and would like a Republic, there isn’t really much that ‘God Save the Queen’ can offer me, unless it is sung by the Sex Pistols, or course.

When I first heard the Brazilian anthem I was intrigued by the jauntiness of the tune with a number of unexpected flourishes.  Once I understood the words (see the video below) I also found that while there is a lot about how great Brazil is and how wonderful the people are who live here and blessed they are with freedom and what have you, there is nothing about fighting other countries or invading them.

It was also clear from watching various footballers, volleyball players and the odd athlete trying to sing it that not many people actually knew the words well enough to sing it.  The first reasons for this is that, at nearly 4 minutes, it is very long (although there is about a 30 second introduction before any singing actually starts).  The second reason, I later found out, is that is quite complicated with a very poetic style that might have been popular 200 years ago but just confuses people today.

FIFA, it seems, is also very worried about the length of national anthems.  They created a rule saying that each country’s anthem must last no longer than 90 seconds. All national federations had to submit a version of their anthem that would meet this stipulation and Brazil offered one of only 60 seconds. Obviously it is more important to have a bit more time for adverts than singing patriotic songs.

For the good of football, shoot him!

Dead or alive

As far as I can tell, the rule was first implemented during the Confederations Cup last year.  At the same time there were a lot of anti-government and anti-FIFA protests taking place all over the country.  As a way to tell FIFA what they thought of their stupid rules, or as a way of showing they were also unhappy with the direction the country was taking, or as a way of showing support for a football team that they wanted to show support with despite the protests, or maybe a mixture of all of these reasons and more, the crowd kept singing the anthem even after the music had stopped.

The effect was electrifying.

For the final the crowd was even more prepared, and so were the players who kept singing along with their fans.  There are some who claim that the effect it had was to unify the team and the crowd while at the same time intimidating the Spanish.

Since then there have been calls from members of the Brazil squad for the crowd to learn the words of the song and to sing it with them after the music has stopped.  The players and fans all get very emotional with tears flowing freely.  I must admit that even for me, a person who dislikes national anthems, it is spine-tingling to hear tens of thousands of people all singing more-or-less together in defiance of FIFA and in support of their country and their football team.

The Brazil National Anthem and Anti-FIFA protest.

The idea seems to be catching on.  Other countries that have a large fan representation here, and have a lengthy anthem, have also started to continue with their anthems despite the diktats of FIFA.  So far I have seen Chile, Colombia and Brazil all doing this.  You’d think FIFA would realise they look like out of touch bureaucrats with no sense of the public mood and just allow countries to play whatever anthem they like and for however long it takes.

But then this is FIFA we are talking about.

Brazilian National Anthem: Long form with English subtitles


This blog piece is a part of the Multicultural Kid Blogs series on World Cup for Kids.  If you would like to follow the World Cup from the point of view of kids around the world then please go and check out the site.  There are bloggers from all of the competing countries as well as articles about Brasil and how to get kids interested in sport.



World Cup 2014: From the Executive Box

England v Uruguay World Cup Ticket Brazil 2014

England v Uruguay World Cup Ticket

Last Wednesday I was (un)lucky enough to get a ticket at the last-minute for the England Uruguay game in the Arena Corinthians in Sao Paulo for both teams’ second game of the World Cup.  I was very excited to get a ticket as I had thought I wasn’t going to be able to get to any of the games in person and I have never been to any World Cup game anywhere.

I was even more excited because it was England playing in a game they had to win to stay in the competition.  After their encouraging 2-1 defeat to Italy in the opening game I was convinced that we would be able to play well against Uruguay and get that much-needed win.

It just goes to show how much I know about football.

But the day was still a success.

The atmosphere, organisation and help of the volunteers was obvious from the moment we got to the metro station. Lots of singing and colour all the way on the train and then, when we got out of the metro station, the noise only intensified.  We had a bit of a walk to get to the stadium itself and we had to run the gauntlet of various Bible bashers loudly proclaiming that Jesus loved us, but in no time at all we were at the stadium entrance.

The people I was with all had tickets to an executive box, but I had a normal ticket on the other side of the stadium.  Instead of heading for my seat I decided to chance my arm and see if I could get into the executive box, fully expecting to be told in no uncertain terms where to go.

I got through the first turnstile without any difficulty, but that was normal as it was just to get into the area immediately surrounding the stadium.  We then walked into the building where the first member of our group showed his ticket, but without asking to see anyone else’s ticket we were directed up some steps.  At this point the process repeated itself and we were directed up some further stairs.

When we got to the top there was a bit of confusion with lots of people coming and going at the same time.  I could see a desk where I knew we were supposed to go to show our tickets, but we decided to walk past it and see what happened.  Nobody said a word and, before I knew what was happening, I was in the box.

The view was amazing!  We were right in the corner of the ground and from that angle the pitch looked smaller than normal.  After a quick look around I helped myself to the first in a long series of free glasses of champagne, beer and plates of food.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

At one point somebody came over to ask why we didn’t have pink wristbands and my friends explained that we hadn’t been given any.  I thought my game was up and quickly finished off a glass of champagne thinking I was going to be asked to leave.  However, once again, one person from our group showed his ticket and we were told it would be a good idea to go back to the desk and get our wristbands to avoid any confusion.  My friends went, but I stayed, put my jacket on to hide the absence of a wristband, and enjoyed the hospitality.

It was a good day out and a great experience.  The only thing lacking from the whole day was an England victory, or at least a good performance.  Maybe next time in Russia?


This blog piece is a part of the Multicultural Kid Blogs series on World Cup for Kids.  If you would like to follow the World Cup from the point of view of kids around the world then please go and check out the site.  There are bloggers from all of the competing countries as well as articles about Brasil and how to get kids interested in sport.

World Cup 2014: Brazilian Dogs Don’t Support Brazil

Dog in Brazil flag

Enough with the fireworks!

For the first game of the World Cup I asked people what they thought of when they thought of Brazil.  A friend who used to live in Brazil sent me an email saying one of the things that struck him the most wasn’t the lifestyle, the people, the music.  It was the incessant noise.

I have to agree.  Noise is a way of life in Brazil.  After a number of years living here it is only when l I leave the country that I realise how noisy it actually is.  In the World Cup, though, the levels of noise go up a few notches.

What do you do when your team scores a goal?  Generally, I shout, jump in the air, have a mouthful of beer and then sit down to watch the replay of the goal and concentrate on the rest of the game.  If it is an important goal in an important game and I am watching with some friends I might dance around a bit and hug whoever happens to be near to me and shout a bit more.

Not so in Brazil.  When they score a goal they go absolutely mental and make as much noise as is humanly possible.  Shouting is just the start of it, with various ‘musical’ instruments like the god-awful vuvezela.  Give them a couple of seconds and they’ll have the fireworks going off.

Don’t believe me?  Take a look at this video which is called This Is What Brazil Sounds Like When The Home Team Scores a Goal.

There isn’t some huge party going on just out of camera shot.  This is just a regular neighbourhood in São Paulo, where friends have got together in various apartments to watch the opening game of the World Cup, and make lots of noise.

But it isn’t just when Brazil score a goal.  On the opening day of the World Cup kick off was 5pm, local time.  I was up very early that day and I heard my first vuvezela (or some sort of equivalent) at 5.30am.  And from then on it just got louder and louder.  There were car horns blaring, stereos turned up to 11 and fireworks going off all morning and afternoon.

And of course, when the fireworks go off every dog in the area goes barmy.  This means that as well as all the man-made noise there is a constant background of frantic dogs barking and howling at the bangs that they know nothing about.  Perhaps, if given the choice, the dogs would support the opposing team, because when Croatia scored early in the first game the reaction was more like this:

This blog piece is a part of the Multicultural Kid Blogs series on World Cup for Kids.  If you would like to follow the World Cup from the point of view of kids around the world then please go and check out the site.  There are bloggers from all of the competing countries as well as articles about Brasil and how to get kids interested in sport.


World Cup 2014: Anyone But England

Anyone But England

Worn by an Irishman in Brazil for the World Cup

Who are you supporting in the World Cup?  For some, this is an easy question to answer because you support the country you come from.  If you come from the likes of Holland, Germany, Brazil, or Argentina you rarely, if ever, fail to qualify.

As an Englishman, I have experience of not qualifying.  The 1994 World Cup in the USA took place without any country from the British Isles.  Fortunately, I didn’t have to worry too much about who to support as Ireland, the home of my dad and all my grandparents, had qualified.

It is one of my favourite World Cups because I didn’t need to obsess about form, injuries and referee decisions.  There was also Paul McGrath repelling everything Italy could throw at Ireland and that Ray Houghton goal, and gambol, that got even my granny jumping around the room.

But for others, there is always the need to find a country to support.

Some people decide on a country because of geographical, familial or cultural ties.  My dad, for instance, will always support England so long as Ireland are not involved.  This is also true for pretty much all of my Irish relatives who live in England.

Some people decide to follow a team based on one or two individuals.  I have a friend from New Zealand who loves Cristiano Ronaldo and so is supporting Portugal.

Others choose a team based on their style of play, so the likes of Holland attract a lot of fans.

If Brazil should ever fail to qualify for a tournament, then my wife will probably decide to support a team based on which one has the most good-looking players.  This time around, it would be Spain, apparently.

These are all good, positive ways of choosing a country to support.  But there is also a negative way of choosing, based on a country that, for whatever reason, you hate.

Some people choose not to support England on this basis, and it even has its own name: Anyone But England (ABE).  A few years ago Andy Murray, the Wimbledon tennis champion, got into a lot of trouble when he suggested he would support anyone but England.

Sometimes, and I think this was the case with Andy Murray, it is just a bit of friendly banter between rivals.  At other times it is seen as a way to get back at English arrogance and dominance.   Then there is also the matter of history and how the English acted and behaved towards their Celtic neighbours.

This ABE idea is not just related to football.  In rugby everyone wants to beat England and ups their game against us.  And it is also not confined to the Celtic countries around England.  Many Australians would also be very comfortable with the supporting anyone else at all.

Image that shows the result of a poll in Scotland to fond out who they are going to support in the WOrld CUp 2014

Who are you planning to support?

While we hear a lot about the ABE campaign, the fact is that it is just a minority of people.  A lot of Irish, Scots and Welsh do choose to support England. A recent Mori poll carried out in Scotland showed that 20% of the population planned to support England, while only 5% claimed to be supporting ABE.

Maybe one day Scotland will qualify for the World Cup and I can join an ‘Anyone But Scotland’ campaign.  But to be honest, I don’t think Scotland are going to qualify soon and anyway, I’d much rather support Brazil.  I might stand a chance of actually winning something, then.


This blog piece is a part of the Multicultural Kid Blogs series on World Cup for Kids.  If you would like to follow the World Cup from the point of view of kids around the world then please go and check out the site.  There are bloggers from all of the competing countries as well as articles about Brasil and how to get kids interested in sport.


World Cup 2014: Brazil – The Boys in Yellow and Green

First brazilian flag after empire's fall, crea...

First flag of the Brazilian Republic (Wikipedia)

In my last post about Brazil for the World Cup for Kids series I asked people what they thought Brazil was famous for, hoping to find something different to write about.  Well, Amanda Van Mulligan, from Expat Life with  Double Buggy, left a comment which got me thinking.  She said:

After football I definitely think of carnival. And just thinking about the word Brazil makes yellow and green float into my head – and I don’t generally automatically associate the colours of a country’s flag when I say a country’s name but it happens with Brazil!

I am not going to write about carnival, because it has no doubt been done to death.  The colours that represent Brazil, however, seems much more interesting.

Flag of Brazil Português: Bandeira do Brasil E...

Republic of Brazil (Wikipedia)

Flag of the Brazilian Republic

If you ask most Brazilians what their colours represent and they’ll tell you that the green represents nature, with the Amazon, Pantanal and other wildlife, the yellow represents natural wealth in the form of gold and other minerals, and the blues represent the sky as it is seen on the flag.

After a tiny bit of research (thanks Wikipedia) it seems that only one of these ideas is definitely true.

On the flag we can see a blue circle with stars on which are in the position they would have been ay 8:30 am, 15th November 1889, as seen from an imagined observer directly above Rio de Janeiro.  This date was the day that Brazil officially became a Republic.  There are 26 stars that represent the number of states in Brazil, plus the Federal District, which is home to the capital, Brasilia.

Flag of the Brazilian Empire

Flag of Empire of Brazil

Flag of Empire of Brazil (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The green and yellow of Brazil comes from the time of the  Brazilian Empire, which immediately pre-dated the Republic.  The green represented the House of Pedro I and the yellow was that of the Empress Consort, Maria Leopoldina of Austrian.  Now, it is entirely possible that Pedro I chose green to represent his family because of the natural beauty of his realm, and that his wife was more interested in the gold that came along with it, but I haven’t been able to find one reference to this.

For a few months after the Republic came into being, and before they settled on the current flag, Brazil had another flag which also featured green and yellow.  It was soon rejected, though, because of a striking resemblance to the flag of another country, and because the authorities wanted to show some sort of consistency during the time of moving from a monarchy to a republic.

Fun with flags, anyone?

This blog piece is a part of the Multicultural Kid Blogs series on World Cup for Kids.  If you would like to follow the World Cup from the point of view of kids around the world then please go and check out the site.  There are bloggers from all of the competing countries as well as articles about Brasil and how to get kids interested in sport.

World Cup 2014: Marking Life by World Cups

England play their first game in the 2014 World Cup in Brazil tomorrow against Italy.  For the first time in a long time I am actually hopeful about the England team and looking forwards to seeing them play in a major tournament.  In the past I have hoped they would win, sometimes even expected them to do well, but in my heart of hearts knew they it was all going to end in tears.

This time, though, I have no real expectations of a win, and I wouldn’t even be surprised if they got knocked out at the group stage.  I am, however, excited about the young squad we have and its potential over the next few years to improve, so this World Cup is more about having some fun and learning about tournament football for them.

But as I said, in the past it has been different.  Looking back at previous World Cups it is interesting how they act as landmarks in my life, helping me to remember who and where I was.

Spain 1982

The Best England Kit Ever

The Best England Kit Ever

I was 8 at the time of this World Cup and it is the first one I have any memory of.  I only really remember 4 things about it, though.    The first is the song that the England team sang before heading off to Spain.  I think it was the first song I ever bought.  Another memory is of Bryan Robson scoring the fastest goal ever at a World Cup with a header against France in the best England kit ever.  Third, I remember Brazil losing to France on penalties and the fact that I watched it at a cricket pitch after watching my uncle play.

The fourth thing I remember is that it was the time of the Falklands conflict and there was a lot of hostility towards England from various teams.

Mexico 1986

I remember much about this Word Cup, but the one of the things that sticks out the most was the Kinder Surprise chocolate eggs that had special toys celebrating the tournament.  The best toy was the one of the mascot, but it was very difficult to get so you had to buy lots of chocolate eggs.

I obviously remember the game with Maradona’s infamous Hand of God goal and the famous best goal ever in a World Cup.  I specifically remember watching the Hand of God goal and hearing the commentator saying the England fans were appealing for offside.  I didn’t realise it was handball, but I did know it wasn’t offside either because an England player had been the last one to touch the ball.  This was the first time I realised that commentators were rubbish.

Italy 1990

This was the first time Ireland had qualified for the World Cup and so lead to some soul-searching about whether to support them or England.  I chose England, just, and was rewarded with the best display in my lifetime.  It culminated in a semi-final appearance with Gazza in tears.  I remember that England should have beaten Germany, but we lost on penalties.

I still hate thinking about that match.

This was the last time I have been in England to watch a World Cup when we have been taking part in it.  This is quite a scary thought.

USA 1994

England didn’t qualify for this tournament, so I was thankful for my Irish roots as this time I was fully behind the men in green.  I remember a near riot at Glastonbury as there was a rumour they were going to show one of the Ireland games on the screen next to the main stage while a band was playing.  They didn’t show the game and the fans who had gathered let the band know in no uncertain terms what we thought of them.

This event provided one of my best memories of any World Cup when Ray Houghton scored his wonder goal against Italy.  Although it was an amazing goal it, it isn’t this that was so wonderful, but the sight of my granny leaping out of the chair when he scored.  I had never seen her move so fast, or jump so high as that day.

France 1998

I was in Taiwan for this World Cup, and so spent a lot of time in one of the few pubs that was showing any of the games.  The game we lost to Argentina was one of the best I have seen, and yet again my memory is that England should have won.  The pub we watched the game in was packed with England fans and, due to the time difference and the game going to penalties we rolled out of the pub at about 6am.  I had a class at 10am and vividly remember seeing my boss as we were leaving the pub and him warning me that I had better turn up to the class.

Japan & South Korea 2002

I was in Brazil for this World Cup.  It was quite a lonely one for me because the time difference, and the fact that I didn’t know any other English people in Brazil at that time, meant I watched most of the games on my own.

I watched England lose against Brazil with a couple of Brazilians.  I nearly beat the crap out of one of them when Brazil scored and he jumped up and down screaming in front of my face.  The only thing that held me back was the fact that he was twice my size and was pretty good at judo.  Otherwise…

Germany 2006

I was in Brazil for this one as well, and it was slightly better because I knew a couple of English people at that point.  It was my first World Cup as a married man, but that didn’t stop me enjoying myself.  I had high hopes for England in this World Cup, but as usual, they were dashed through Wayne Rooney getting himself sent off and then once again messing up the penalties.

One day I will watch England win a game on pemalties in the World Cup.  I may need to live well into my 100’s to manage it, but I refuse to die until we have done so.

South Africa 2010

I was in Rio de Janeiro for this one, but surprisingly I don’t really have any strong memories about it.  By this time I was starting to fall out of love with football in general because of issues like the importance of money.  I had also lost any hope whatsoever that England would ever win anything in my lifetime, especially as they had such an average team.

I do remember the noise of that bloody vuvuzela.  Surely it has to be one of the most irritating things ever allowed into a football stadium.

Brazil 2014

English: Man blowing a vuvuzela, Cape Town, So...

I’ll tell you what you can do with that vuvuzela (Wikipedia)

Which brings us up to date.  My first World Cup as a dad!

I am quite sad that my son is still only 2 years old because he is not going to have any memories at all of having the World Cup in one of hs own countries.  As things stand, England aren’t going to get to host a World Cup because FIFA seems to hate them and I don’t think Brazil will be queuing up to go through this painful process again.  For future World Cups I will make sure my son has great memories to act as landmarks in his own life.  Assuming he gets into football and that FIFA doesn’t kill it.

By the way, some of my memories might not actually be totally 100% correct.  I have decided not to check them because I like my memories as they are, so please excuse any mistakes.

This blog piece is a part of the Multicultural Kid Blogs series on World Cup for Kids.  If you would like to follow the World Cup from the point of view of kids around the world then please go and check out the site.  There are bloggers from all of the competing countries as well as articles about Brasil and how to get kids interested in sport.


World Cup 2014: What is Brazil Famous For?

FIFA World Cup 2014 logo.

Face palm? (Wikipedia)

This is it.  Today’s the day.  It’s time for the jaguar to drink water.

The kick off for the 2014 World Cup is upon us.  By the end of the day we’ll know if Brazil have managed to win the first game and maybe kick start the whole tournament, or if President Dilma is right to be the most nervous person in the country.

Apart from football, though, what is Brazil famous for?

This is a question I get asked a lot by my students who are eager to know foreigners think about their country. I ask them what they think they are famous for and we get a list that goes something like this:

Football, the beach, music (samba), fun, carnival, sex, beautiful women, the Amazon, that Christ statue in Rio, Foz do Iguaçu, maybe the Pantanal..

One of the reasons I ask my students to answer the question (along with it being a good idea to get them doing more of the speaking and not me), is that I no longer know what foreigners think about Brazil because I have been involved with this country for so long.  And it doesn’t do me any good to ask my friends and relatives because they are more aware of the country simply by me being here.

So I now ask the same question to you, my loyal reader.  What do you think Brazil is famous for?

Whatever answers are left in the comments I will write about during the World Cup.  Whenever Brazil have a game I’ll choose one of the topics and tell you whether Brazilians should be famous for it, or whether it is just a stereotype.

And if nobody leaves any comments I’ll just choose from my list above.


This blog piece is a part of the Multicultural Kid Blogs series on World Cup for Kids.  If you would like to follow the World Cup from the point of view of kids around the world then please go and check out the site.  There are bloggers from all of the competing countries as well as articles about Brasil and how to get kids interested in sport.