World Cup 2014: Brazil Is Still Here

Brazil fans after losing to Germany 7-1 in the World Cup

After the game

Shame!  Embarrassment!  Humiliation!  Scandal!  Ignominy!

Words such as these were bandied about on Tuesday evening.  There were tears from more than one person.  A few arguments broke out.  Some wondered out loud if they would be able to go to work the next day.  Others swore the would never leave Brazil again so they wouldn’t have to face the rest of the world.

A couple of people predicted trouble.  There were going to be riots.  The country was going to rise up.  Everything would stop working.  The world was going to end.

It is true that a few people didn’t make it in to work the following day, but that was more down to the effects off too much bad beer than feelings of shame.  Apart from a few isolated incidents, there wasn’t much trouble, the country has risen up (much to the chagrin of people who should know better) and the world hasn’t ended.

Most Brazilians I know have reacted to the 7-1 loss to Germany in the World Cup semi-final just as I would have predicted, if ever I though such a result were possible.  They have shouted at the TV, cursed Galvão (if they still watch him), cried a bit, opened a beer, cracked a few self-deprecating jokes and got on with it.

One very interesting thing for me was the speed with which jokes and memes hit the internet.  Midway through the 2nd half I was seeing some great stuff on Facebook, and most of it was by Brazilians.  This shouldn’t have been too surprising Brazil is a very connected country, but the speed with which they accepted the inevitable and then started joking about it was impressive.

In newspapers and on TV there is talk of conspiracies and recriminations in the Senate.  But most people I have met have talked about it a bit, and then got on with whatever it is they needed to do.

There does seem to be a bit of a divorce between what the media are talking about and what Brazilians I know are talking about.  This was evident right from the start of the World Cup.  Hardly anybody I spoke to really expected Brazil to win.  There was hope, but no expectation.  There was a realisation that this team was far from a vintage one and that there were other stronger teams in the world.  A few suggested that simply by being at home they would have an advantage that might see them win, but this was never going to be anything to build all your hopes on.

And so now most eyes are turned to the final on Sunday.  Nobody really cares about Saturday’s 3rd/4th place play-off, and most people seem to think it is a waste of time and should never be played.  The only thing that could really upset people now is if Argentina win in Rio de Janeiro, but even that, I think, wouldn’t be the end of the world.

World Cup for Kids - Multicultural Kid Blogs

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, Football and Music.

Right back at the beginning of the Word Cup, and the start of my series of posts for MKB World Cup for Kids, I asked people what Brazil was famous for, with the idea that I could write some posts based on these ideas.

One person, on Facebook I think, rightfully mentioned that Brazil is famous for samba but that there is also a lot of other music that Brazil doesn’t get recognition for.  There are great jazz musicians, heavy metal artists, funk singers and DJs that all come from Brazil.  There are also a lot of crap sertanejo, pagode and axé musicians around, but then every country has its fair share of shame in the music stakes.

But as this is the World Cup I thought I’d share some of the music from Brazil about, or inspired by football.  I don’t make any claim to all of them being on my playlist, but I have culled a lot of songs that I think are awful.  If you would like to find out about more songs from Brazilian artists about football you can do a Google search for musica brasileiro futebol.

Jorge Ben Jor – Fio Maravilha

This song is about a footballer whose nickname was Fio Maravilha.  It tells the story of a friendly game in which he was brought onto the pitch in the 33rd minute and scored ‘the goal of an angel’.  Due to legal problem between the singer and the player you’ll often see the song called Filho Maravilha, which would be translated as ‘Wonderful Son’.  This particular version also features the brilliant Gilberto Gil.

Skank – É Um Partido do Futebol (It’s a Football Match)

Skank are a rock/reggae/indie band that started in the early 1990’s.  Despite being very successful in Brazil they haven’t really sought international recognition, which surely would have been theirs if they had tried.

Elis Regina – Aqui É O Pais do Futebol (The Football Country Is Here)

I love Elis!  I think she has to be one of my top two favourite Brazilian musicians.  She sang some great political songs during the dictatorship and managed to get away with it.  I like to think this was because of her voice, but it was probably because the authorities were too stupid to figure out what she was actually singing about.  This isn’t one of her best, but it’s still pretty good.

Pixinguinha – Um a Zero (One Nil)

Pixinguinha was one of the first popular Brazilian musicians.  He started playing in bands and recording songs when he was still a teenager in the early 20th century in Lapa, Rio de Janeiro.  He is credited with bringing choro to the Brazilian masses as well as being around for the birth of samba.

Chico Buarque – O Futebol (Football)

Along with Elis Regina, Chico Buarque is probably my other favourite Brazilian musician.  If you have never heard of him, them shame on you.  For this particular song I chose a video with images of Garrincha, the Brazilian footballer who was probably better than Pele, and definitely loved more than the Viagra-selling-wannabe-politician.

Edu Krieger – Desculpe, Neymar (Sorry, Neymar)

No, this isn~t a lament for Brazil’s star player breaking his back.  Instead, this song is a letter to Neymar telling him that the author will not be supporting Brazil at this World Cup because of the corruption, huge budgets and the problems facing Brazilian society.

Bonus track – Atlético’s Fanáticos drummers

Practically every team in Brazil has its band of drummers and my team, Atlético Paranaense, is no different.  The organised supporters group for Atlético is called The Fanáticos, and they have come in for some criticism for links to hooligans and crime.  They have a decent set of drummers, though.

I have left loads of songs off this list.  If you know of any in particular that you think are better than the ones I have mentioned, please just leave a comment below.

World Cup for Kids - Multicultural Kid Blogs

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.


MKB One World Futbol World Cup Giveaway

Football Giveaway

Football Giveaway

As a kid, I played football with anything: stones, empty drinks cans, rolled up socks, space-hoppers and cricket balls.  I was football crazy, so I didn’t really care how much a cricket ball would hurt my foot, I just wanted to kick it.

While kids will kick anything in an effort to play the beautiful game, there is nothing better than playing with a real football.  The problem is, though, that they can be very expensive and tend to deflate very quickly when you shank one into next door’s window.

That hissing sound of air escaping from a ball has to be one of the nightmare sounds from my childhood.

That’s why I am so excited to support One World Futbol in their mission to bring the healing power of play to youth worldwide through their nearly indestructible soccer/football. The One World Futbol never needs a pump and never goes flat—even when punctured multiple times—due to its ingenious technology. But what we truly love about their model is for every ball purchased, they donate one to organizations working with youth in disadvantaged communities worldwide.

Our Giveaway

Follow along by using the hash tag #MKBWorldCup!

We have a special giveaway planned during the World Cup with Multicultural Kid Blogs and One World Futbol. It’s unlike a usual giveaway as this time you, our readers, are using your collective power to vote to give the ball away to a community in need!  We need your help so we can donate one of the One World Futbols (generously supplied by One World Futbol) to the Richard Swanson – Breakaway Brazil campaign.  Richard Swanson had a dream of dribbling a football all the way from Seattle in the USA to Brazil for the World Cup, but unfortunately his dream was cut short when he was hit and killed in Oregon just two weeks into his journey.

But here’s the thing–there are 9 blogs participating in this contest, and One World Futbol will donate balls to the three blogs that get the most shares on their posts. So we need your help–please SHARE this post on Twitter, Facebook, G+ and Pinterest and contribute your power, your vote to help us donate this One World Futbol.  Each share make directly from this post is tallied as a vote.  And whoever get the most votes, donates the ball!  Let’s show how strong our voices are with our votes.

We have until midnight ET on Sunday, July 13, to get as many shares as we can on this post.  (The tally will be made based on the number on the social share buttons at the end of this post).  So let’s start now!

Feel free to use #MKBWorldCup when you share!

And don’t forget to visit Multicultural Kid Blogs to help them “unlock” an additional two One World Futbols to donate!

One World Futbol

One World Futbol Project is a B-corporation based in Berkeley, CA and was founded by Tim Jahnigen, the inventor of the One World Futbol. One World Futbol was inspired by refugee youth in Darfur, who had such indestructible spirits – and love for football! – despite their hardships. Tim Jahnigen wanted to give them something more, so he invented a soccer ball that would never need a pump and would never go flat, even when punctured multiple times. One World Futbol Project and its virtually indestructible ball have now reached 160 countries and continue to bring the healing power of play to youth worldwide. The Buy One Donate One model makes it easy for consumers to donate these amazing One World Futbols to needy communities.
Here is more on their work in one community in my city of Curitiba in Brazil:

Participating Blogs

The following member blogs are participating in this contest. Visit them to see which organizations they have chosen. Remember, sharing is caring! The 3 blogs with the most social shares (as shown on the share counters on their blog posts) will get to donate a football to the qualified organization they have chosen!

Our Whole Village
Expat Life with a Double Buggy
Entre Compras y El Hogar
Head of the Heard
La Cité des Vents
Trilingual Mama
All Done Monkey

Help “unlock” an additional two One World Futbols at Multicultural Kid Blogs!


World Cup for Kids - Multicultural Kid Blogs

See all of the posts in the World Cup for Kids project, plus follow our World Cup for Kids board on Pinterest, and join the conversation on Facebook and Google Plus!

World Cup 2014: Brazil’s Hands on Shoulders

Brazilian football team walks onto the pitch with hands on shoulders

Blind leading the blind?

When I first moved to Brazil there were many sights and sounds that were new, funny or just plain downright weird.  There were a number of times when I was left open-mouthed when I saw something for the first time, like the Oil Man of Curitiba or 80-year-old men walking around town in just their Speedos.

The Blind Leading the Blind

One of the things that sticks in my mind was the time I saw a row or 4 or 5 blind people crossing the road.  The first person was walking with a white cane with the next person following him with his hand on the lead man’s shoulder.  The third person, in turn, had his hand on the second person’s shoulder, and so on.

Obviously I had heard the expression ‘the blind leading the blind’, but I thought it was just an clever turn of phrase.  But here it was, in Curitiba, Brazil, an actual reality.

Brazil Football Team’s New Ritual

When Brazil walks out this evening in Fortaleza to meet Colombia in the 1/4 Finals of the World Cup, they will do their impression of the blind leading the blind.  They have a new ritual whereby they captain, Thiago Silva, walks on to the pitch and the next in line puts his right hand on the captain’s shoulder.  The third player then puts his hand on the second player’s shoulder, and so on all the way down the line until the 11th player who has nobody’s hand on his shoulder, except maybe for that of fate.

This ritual was first seen in Brazil’s opening game of the World Cup against Croatia.  Apparently it was the brainchild of Silva and David Luiz and a friend of theirs.  The explanation for the ritual is that “you can give your hand to anyone, but the shoulder is just for friends.”  I’m not quite sure what that is supposed to mean.

Elephants holding tails

Elephants ready to play football.

Personally, I don’t like this hands on shoulders things.  As well as images of blind people crossing the road, I also see the elephants holding tails in the Jungle Book.  But worse than these images is that it looks like forced camaraderie, that they were looking around for a gesture to show how much they are a team, instead of 11 individuals.

Where they are getting it right is during the singing of the national anthem.  At this point, the team comes together with arms around each other’s shoulders and they sing the national anthem with the crowd, continuing when the music has stopped due to absurd FIFA regulations.  This seems a lot more natural to me, as opposed to the shuffling onto the pitch of 11 people forced to play football together.


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’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.

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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.