“Imagina na Copa!”

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Brazil is working hard to have everything ready for the upcoming Copa do Mundo, the World Cup of soccer, in 2014. The internationally famous Maracanã stadium is undergoing a complete renovation. Streets and roads are being improved. The subway (metrô) is adding more stations. Major airports are scheduled for upgrades before the first whistle blows.

Brazilians are a little cynical about their government’s ability to get everything done on time. FIFA, the international governing body of soccer, has been pressuring Brazil to step up the activity. But the authorities assure all that everything will work out just fine.

Public opinion is that, as usual, it will all come together at the last possible moment, based on the famous “jeitinho brasileiro,” Brazilians’ knack for finding a solution to anything by using unexpected and/or unconventional methods. Read more

Futebol no Brasil

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In Brazil all other sports take a back seat to futebol (“soccer” in the U.S. and Canada, “football” in the rest of the English-speaking world). And everyone has their favorite team, which they often choose during childhood.

As I’ve moved around California in my life I’ve switched my baseball loyalties from the LA Dodgers to the San Francisco Giants, to the Oakland A’s, and now to the lowly Padres of my home town San Diego (They win once in a while!).

But Brazilians would never think of changing teams just because they moved to a new city, or because the team had lost twenty straight. Your team is yours for life!

The main teams in Rio are Fluminense, Flamengo, Vasco da Gama, and Botafogo. Other cities root for (torcem por) Santos (Pelé’s team), Vitória, Atlético Mineiro, Inter, Palmeiras, Grêmio, Corinthians, São Paulo and dozens more.

Games are televised daily, but especially on Sundays and Wednesdays, when “a galera de amigos” (the gang of friends) gets together to watch, scream, argue, and sometimes fight, at their favorite barzinho with uma gelada na mão—a cold one in hand. Read more