Okay, so let's be clear: I don't care about soccer. It boggled my mind when my English coworkers in Sao Paulo would get up at 3 am on a Tuesday to watch Southampton play Liverpool, or when Brazilians would riot in the streets after one Sao Paulo team (Corinthians, for example) would beat a rival Sao Paulo team (like Sao Paulo FC), or when Julia and I would hear gunshots on a Monday night and just assume it was soccer-related. I mean, come on.
In fact, the wild-eyed fervor that goes along with soccer sort of really freaks me out. I read this book in my "Explaining Ethnic Violence" seminar in college called Among the Thugs, by Bill Buford. The book was about soccer hooliganism as a sociological phenomenon. Buford spent eight years with Manchester United supporters as they boozed, rioted, and sexually assaulted their way through many a football championship. The author's thesis about the cause of the supporters' extremely violent and thuggish behavior was that they had exhausted all other forms of stimulation -- drugs, alcohol, sex -- and senseless violence, in the form of soccer rioting, was their drug, their only release. Right.
The grossest part of the book was when Buford talked about this one particularly horrible soccer fan who got mad at a police officer and picked him up from his barstool and sucked his eyeball out of his head. The eyeball sucker then left the bar, went -- still bloodsoaked -- to a 24-hour chicken restaurant with his wife, and was promptly arrested by the eyeless officer's police buddies. I told that story to an English guy and he said, "Nuh uh, there is no way you could suck someone's eyeball out of his head." Uh, as if the actual physical mechanics of eyeball sucking were the real issue there. Yikes.
Anyway, enough about eyeball sucking. The point is, I don't really care at all about soccer. In Brazil, it annoyed and baffled me when at 8 am on a Wednesday, people would be crowding the streets, waving flags and blowing whistles, beers in hand, when I was in my cab, crawling to work. Damn futebol! But, it's World Cup season, and even Americans have to be marginally interested in the whole soccer thing, since we do have a team (even if they do suck), and we need to be sure they don't embarrass us. America, f*** yeah!
I decided that I am rooting for Brazil all the way, NOT because I am a fairweather fan, but because I feel that they deserve to win, and because I have green World Cup havianas that I can wear in support. Yesterday Brazil played Croatia, and I wore my Brazil flag earrings to work. Sure enough, Brazil won (go Kaka!), and I think it was because of me. Also, after living in that country for 9 months and seeing the extreme futebol fandom that exists there, I am pretty sure Brazil could give any other country a run for its money in true soccer madness.
So. VAMOS BRASILEIROS! Oh, and America, don't humiliate us.