Wednesday, June 14, 2006

World Cup 2006

For me at least, this World Cup is different from most of the ones I've watched. I think most Brazilians share my feelings, even if they won't admit it.

I was nine years-old when Brazil became three-time champion in 1970, thus retaining the Jules Rimet cup for good (until it was stolen, that is - but that's another story). Brazilian football looked unbeatable. Then, in 1971 our greatest player ever, Pelé, bid farewell to the Brazilian team. And Brazil's substandard performance in the 1974 World Cup seemed to confirm our unspoken fears that our glory days were over: without Pelé, Brazil would never be a major force in soccer again. Then other countries began to equal Brazil's three-time champion mark and we began to fear one of them might eventually surpass it.

It took 24 years for Brazil to win another World Cup again, 24 long years of anxiety and expectation. When Italian player Baggio missed his penalty kick in 1994, believe me, I couldn't hold back the tears. And I'm not such a big soccer fan, but I had that cry of victory stuck in my throat for 24 years. But now it's different. Brazil has not only reached its longed for four-time champion mark, but surpassed it. Whatever it is the Brazilian team had to prove has been more than proved. Of course the whole country is glued to television sets, but deep inside I know we are a lot more relaxed than in previous tournaments. I think even the players feel less pressured, but also less motivated.

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