A test for everybody

By Daniel Duchene.

The 2013 Confederations Cup has come to an end and all tests with it.

FIFA uses the Confederations Cup as a test in preparation to the much bigger event that is the World Cup. This competition, that takes place exactly one year before the World cup, allows the local organizing committee to gather useful information about the efficiency of the country’s infrastructures and how much more work still needs to be done.

This small version of the World Cup was also a test for us, as filmmakers, in preparation to shooting our documentary All Eyes on Brazil. During this occasion, we were able to observe the country’s behavior – the way the population reacted to the event.

What have we learned? Well, a lot…

As millions marched the streets to protest for better public education and health systems, and for the end of political corruption, we have learned that Brazil is a country on the verge of change. We have also learned that nothing is going to stop this change, not even the World Cup.

We have learned that even though the protests were forms of disapproval of the World Cup, criticizing the overinflated (corrupted) expenses that came with hosting such an event, the love for the game remained the same. Actually, more than ever, football gained a meaning, it gained a purpose.

Growing up in Brazil, as a football fanatic, I always wondered why wars weren’t decided with a ball, on the pitch. It seemed so logical to me at the time. Football meant so much more than just a game. Although the country is not facing anything close to a war, it is facing a sort of revolution, and during the Confederations Cup, it seemed that, by publicly embracing the values of the protests, the Brazilian football squad established a new kind of connection with the population.

After scoring a goal, the players of the Selecao jumped into the crowd

After scoring a goal, the players of the Selecao jumped into the crowd

Whereas in the past, football was considered to be the opium of the people – a form of entertainment that made the population forget about the difficult life conditions they where presented with – this time, it was clear that nothing was to be forgotten. During this Confederations Cup, it was impossible to watch the Brazilian team play without thinking about the protests that were taking place in the country, despite all FIFA’s efforts to ban any form of political manifestation in the stadiums. As many players manifested they solidarity with the movement, on the pitch, you could see a different sparkle in their eyes, an extra motivation, the type of motivation that transcends the frontiers of sports, the type of motivation that makes a team unbeatable.

Neymar, Brazil's actual best player, and the crowd

Neymar, Brazil’s actual best player (#10), celebrating with the crowd

We witness a strong connection between what was going on outside of the stadiums and what was going on inside. At the peak of the protests, during the game against Mexico, the national anthem was sung by the players and by the fans with such passion, that once the music stopped, the entire stadium continued singing it a capella for an extra 30 seconds (see video below), sending shivers down the spine of everybody who was watching it. Throughout the competition, as the manifestations became more prominent, so did the passion with which the players performed. As it is quite uncommon in Brazil, due to the high risk of injury, after scoring a goal, the players raced towards the crowd and jumped deep in it, mingling with the people, together, as one.

Brazil went on to win the Confederations Cup, cruising against the favorite and current World Cup champion Spain, and although we have learned a lot from observing this event, the Brazilian people learned even more. Brazilians have learned, or at least remembered, that, together, as one, they are capable of achieving anything.

Dante, a player from the Brazilian national team said on his twitter: “Orgulho de ser brasileiro!! Proud to be Brazilian!!”, “Vamos juntos Brasil, amo meu povo e sempre apoiarei vocês.” (“Let’s go together Brazil, I love my people and will also support you.”). 

 

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