Writing against disappearance ? Sa?a Stani?i?

Sa?a Stani?i?, who grew up in Bosnia-Herzegovina and Germany, writes regional novels of an unusual kind. His novel ?Vor dem Fest? was awarded the Prize of the Leipzig Book Fair. ... more more

GoetheInstitute

30/05/2006

Flushing the toilet for Brazil

Understanding the Brazilian fan base means delving into a tangled mess of pride, reverse psychology, politics and superstition. By Juao Ubaldo Ribeiro

Swept up in World Cup fever, the Folio magazine of the Neue Zürchner Zeitung commissioned a whole string of authors to elucidate on their respective teams' chances of victory. Read Rodrigo Fresan on Argentina, Andrew Anthony on England Herve Le Teiller on France, Robert Gernhardt on Germany and Leon de Winter on the Netherlands. More to follow as the championship approaches...

My God, how should I explain why I think Brazil will win the World Cup? There's an easy answer that even non-Brazilians (assuming they're not Argentinians) will know already. We have the best players in pretty much every position. We have an excess of talented players; almost every selection is controversial. This makes us the obvious favourite in the betting offices and the expert prognoses – other than in Argentina, of course.

As a result, many seem to doubt our ambition. Being a favourite can mean feeling overly confident, or even pity for the opponent. Irreparable national tragedies loom over us, such as at the end of the 1950 World Cup, when we were the clear favourite at home and needed nothing more than a tie. We began the game ahead and then lost to Uruguay. It should be said that some Brazilians – not many, but enough – don't believe or don't want Brazil to become world champion. A foreigner would need a semester to understand all the nuances of the problem that this poses for a people whose national pride is most clearly expressed through football. There are people who don't want Brazil to win in order to prove the ineptitude of our president. The connection may be hard for a European to understand, but in Brazil everyone does. Then there are people who don't like the trainer. In short, there are a whole bunch of strange connections that turn this question into an incredibly complex problem. One should not forget the obscure demi-monde of people who claim not to believe in a victory but who in fact do believe in it but don't want to admit it in case that brings bad luck.

And last but not least there are legions of Brazilians who contribute to the success of our national team with unconventional means. When we were still listening the World Cup on the radio, for instance, my father always used to wear the same clothes and drink the same whisky – the bottle and the ice bucket in exactly the same place each time. When the national anthem rang out, he stood up straight and every time our team went on the offensive, he made me flush the toilet. Because once, in 1958, Brazil had scored a goal in its first game against Austria as I happened to have been flushing the toilet. After that he believed that we had made a significant contribution to the victory – not just in 1958, also in 1962. And so, millions of Brazilians are willing to give whatever they have and most cherish in order to help win the trophy. And if we don't get it, it's only because someone didn't fulfil his duty.

*

Brazilian team profile

Joao Ubaldo Ribeiro is a writer currently living in Rio de Janeiro.


This article forms part of compilation of writings originally published in the Neue Zürchner Zeitung magazine Folio on May 2, 2006.


Translation: nb

Get the signandsight newsletter for regular updates on feature articles.
signandsight.com - let's talk european.

 
More articles

Me and my Kindle

Monday 6 December, 2010

TeaserPic Ebooks are becoming a serious alternative to their papery predecessors. Does this mean we are on the verge of a fundamental shift in the medium of the book and its contents? Author, retired German Literature professor and enthusiastic ebook convert Ruth Klüger leads the way into the almost weightless future of reading.
read more

Not in our name!

Monday 23 November, 2009

The path of gentrification has, more often than not, been paved by artists. But Hamburg's creative community wants to jam the economic development machine instead. Here is their manifesto.
read more

Organic or bust

Wednesday 24 January, 2008

The Berlin district of Prenzlauer Berg is the playground of the new Germany. But unless you fit in, life can be tough among the beautiful creatives of a gated community that needs no wall. By Henning Sußebach
read more

I am a Goggomobil

Friday 18 May, 2007

Germans are said to be a bit obsessed with their cars - sleek, robust, fast. But the cutest thing to ever grace the autobahn had other virtues. In view of the green future where Germany is a small car nation, Georg Klein sings praise of the Goggomobil.
read more

Paris pop paradise

Wednesday 14 February, 2007

Paris is the anti-Berlin. While the world's writers and artists are flocking to the ugly German capital, personalities like Sofia Coppola and Jarvis Cocker are drawn to Paris to pursue their work in freedom and impeccable style in front of perfect facades. By Eckhart Nickel
read more

A perfect place for a revolution

Monday 20 November, 2006

"This year I was struck by the number of articles saying you should do absolutely nothing on your holidays. We Poles have fully embraced the credo 'time is money,' and become a nation of workaholics." Taking the experts at their word, Edwin Bendyk searches for perfect idleness in post-communist Poland.
read more

What to do with Mother?

Wednesday 1 November, 2006

Mother's friend E. can't move her hands. Mr W. scalded himself in the shower. Mrs A. fell down in the kitchen and Mrs H. was trapped among thorny roses. Perhaps it's time to get Mother to a safe place. In coming decades the number of over-80s will grow from three to ten million, more than one third of whom will need care. But where? And how? Susanne Mayer looks at why we are overtaxed when Mother or Father become care cases.
read more

"Nix Aldi - Picaldi"

Wednesday, 25 October 2006

The Berlin cut-price label Picaldi has cornered the jeans market for hoodies, dolies and rappers. By Johannes Gernert
read more

Bionade: the triumph of a guiltless pleasure

Wednesday, 18 October, 2006

There's no quenching German thirst for the organic lemonade in a Bionade bottle. The factory can't meet demand and has sent Coca Cola packing. Cornelius and Fabian Lange describe the rise of the Bionade empire out of the ashes of the failing Peter brewery in what was once a failing region in Germany - soon to be home to the Bionade valley.
read more

Always caviar

Thursday 7 September, 2006

Compared with their permatanned clientele, the chefs appear pale and lost in thought. The look of people who spend sleepless nights melding creative relationships between marinated Barbary duck and puff pastry with ginger. Margrit Sprecher on the annual pig-out in the mountains that is the St. Moritz Gourmet Festival.
read more

A St. Moritz pilgrimage

Monday 21 August, 2006

What is it that people find in St. Moritz, 1,856 metres above sea level? Is it the proximity of the sky? The snow, the cold, the peace, the pure air? Or is it a sense of their own impermanence? German novelist Thomas Hettche travels in the footsteps of Nietzsche and the jet set to Switzerland's exclusive resort.
read more

Patriots of a new stripe

Wednesday 28 June, 2006

Infected with World Cup fever, Germans seem to be swelling with a strange new feeling: patriotism. Writer Thomas Brussig admits that he too has been painting his face red, black and gold and reassures his compatriots that being proud to be German is healthy, good and by no means mandatory.
read more

Who will win the World Cup?

Wednesday14 June, 2006

Brazil is the obvious favourite. But what about the others? England has Wayne Rooney. Argentina is on a high wire between agony and ecstasy. The Netherlands will have to turn into a team of murderous sadists if they are to win. And Switzerland's card is the "principe melange". Eight writers rate their country's chances of victory.
read more

The return of the "principe melange"

Thursday 8 June, 2006

The FIFA World Cup kicks off tomorrow in Germany. In the last of our series by authors explaining why their country will win, Benno Maggi also tells exactly how Switzerland will become world champion.
read more

The Spanish Apocalypse

Wednesday 7 June, 2006

It will be an apocalyptic day when Spain wins the World Cup, says writer Guillem Martinez. But it might as well fall this year as any.
read more