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.
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.