Understanding Brazilian Soccer Fans: An Ethnography
Observe the Brazilian soccer fan. A social creature, the BSF can be passionate, cunning, agile, and overwhelming supportive of his or her cause. Learn more about this inquisitive and interesting sub-culture of Brazil.
There are many tribes indigenous to South America that we know very little about. One of the most well developed and widely recognized is the Brazilian Soccer Fan. A lively and passionate group, the Brazilian soccer (football) fan can be difficult for outsiders to understand. Through my observations and recordings of these people, I will attempt to shed some light on this fascinating sub-culture.
In many countries throughout the world, soccer ranges from an entertaining past-time to a competitive sport. In Brazil, soccer is closer to a religion than a pastime, and has been referred to as the "lifeblood" of the nation. If soccer is the religion, then the members of Brazilian Nation Football Team are the priests. Any they are well-loved clergy. With five World Cup wins, the Brazilian National Team is the most successful national football team in the history of FIFA (Fédération Internationale de Football Association).
The Brazilian team is currently ranked fourth in the world by this governing body. Do not, under any circumstances, bring that up to a Brazilian soccer fan. Stating that Brazil is anything less than the best soccer team in the world can instigate sudden and unpredictable levels of aggression from a Brazilian soccer fan. Should you incur this wrath, be sure to avoid eye contact, back away slowly, and keep the back of your neck covered in the event of a mauling. Playing dead is also a good technique.
In the world of the Brazilian soccer fan, the FIFA World Cup beats out Christmas, New Years, and many other events as the favorite national 'holiday.' There are many traditions surrounding this hallowed event. Much like some of the more internationally known holidays, banks and businesses have limited hours, many people—including most government workers—have time off, and World Cup rush sweeps the country. The last World Cup was hosted in South Africa, where the outcomes of eight matches were accurately predicted by a small octopus, named Paul. The next World Cup will be hosted in Brazil and will be surrounded with similarly fascinating rituals.
The typical Brazilian soccer fan can easily tell you that the technical ability and overall skill of the Brazilian National Football team is incomparable to and unreachable by any other team in the world. With internationally renowned players like Pelé and Ronaldo, it's easy to see why this team is held to such high standards by its followers.
Like any belief systems, Brazilian soccer fans have their rivalries. This rivalry is beyond intense. Known as the "Battle of the South Americans," the ongoing controversy between Brazil and Argentina is extreme. Even during practice games or friendly matches there have been notable and notorious incidents. Starting as far back as 1937 and continuing into present day, there have been creative accusations and controversial allegations of scandal between the teams.
The dedication of the Brazilian soccer fan is indisputable. A small look into this culture may leave one confused. Hopefully, this reading has enlightened you slightly, but it has only skimmed the surface. The Brazilian soccer fan is passionate and devoted beyond what can be discussed in a short article. But, if you ever find yourself discussing soccer in Brazil, there is one bit of knowledge you should always keep in mind: You are fan of Brazil.
If you do plan on attending the world cup in Brazil, it's never too early to book a hotel in Rio de Janeiro. The city's best rooms will fly off the shelves months and years before the actual event.
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