Finger-Crossed Nation

With Due Respect to Germany,
If Brazil Loses It’s All Our Fault

Just about now, some 200 million Brazilians are deep into their strategic planning for Brazil vs. Germany, the game in Belo Horizonte that will define the World Cup’s first semifinalist. They are not, however, concerned about partying or commiserating afterwards.
They’ll instead be carefully deciding exactly what outfit to wear and just about every other detail related to the viewing experience, down to repeating everything they did during Brazil’s past wins. Make no mistake about it: whatever happens, they’ll feel responsible for it.
World Cup 2014 LogoThat’s how viscerally Brazilians try to take ownership of sorts over fate, when it comes to their national football team, even though for everyone else, it’s just a purely human, vain attempt to feel in charge over something that’s essentially out of anyone’s control. Good luck telling them that, though.
For that’s entirely in line with a nation that, until a few years back, used to be know for the biggest concentration of Catholics in the world, outside Italy. Such assumption sounds now as hollow as long ago demoted definitions of Brazil as a ‘racial democracy,’ or the ‘country of the future.’
The hidden truth about that old cliche was that, even as most still call themselves Christians, Afro-Brazilian cults and their deities, brought to the land by slaves, has always exerted a stronger pull over the faithful and whenever Jesus wouldn’t hear them, the Orixás would come to rescue. In doubt, most would worship both.
On top of that, since the 1970s, there’s been a dramatic increase in Messianic Evangelical faiths, that’s slowly taken hold of Brazil and now has enormous consolidated power over all aspects of society, from media ownership to political representation, which translates in massive wealth to its preachers.

Using an appropriately religious expression, they’re ‘all united in faith,’ or something, anything, that will make them believe that devout ardor beats the basic randomness of nature, the one that presides over polls results, pregnancies, and of course, games of football. Somehow, these two forces always collide.
That is, unless there’s corruption, traffic of influence, and downright theft playing a part too. We honestly doubt though that it has any sway over the final stages of a competition of such a magnitude as the World Cup, however hard some may try to imply that it does. Then again, who knows?
But cliches about Brazil’s mysticism and the passion of its people for the game are but a small part of what may determine the result of the match against Germany. For behind it, there are weighty issues of history and a number of incredible odds stacked against and in favor of a win by either side.

As everybody and the Argentinian Pope know by now, Brazil lost its biggest star, to many, the marquee playmaker by excellence of this competition, held at his home country: Neymar. His fractured vertebra won’t heal until Fall, and he’s out of the World Cup for good.
For a team that was not only relying heavily on his talents through the tournament, but even with them, had been all but hostile to the ‘jogo bonito’ a term invented, you guessed it, in Brazil, that may be the straw that broke, well let’s spare him of one more indignity by invoking yet another soiled metaphor.
Speaking of self delusion, many prefer to believe in a different hyperbolic clutch, a tale of karma and arch of redemption, when the heroes, back against the wall and facing a platoon of ravenous zombies, find the inner strength to fight them all off and save the day at the end.
Unfortunately, hardly any real life stories even resemble or could possibly fit in such airtight prefab mold. The only connection such heart warming, but completely phony, tales may have with the world we all live in is the fight winners and losers do put on, before being assigned to their final, somewhat predetermined, destinies.

There may be a time when no one will ever need such smokescreen tactics in order to face the inevitable, when just the appreciation of life for what it is will be enough to make us all enjoy the moment while it lasts and be satisfied with its outcome, be it as it may. We doubt we’ll be seen any of it in our lifetime, though.
It’s just a game after all. But as we said, the pope is from Argentina. So, while perfection keeps skipping our address, we’ll manage with our little rituals, just in case, our favorite lucky charms and trinkets honoring a variety of invisible beings, to whom we’ll promise anything in exchange for that shared vanity of a moment.
We’ll be monitoring very closely everything we eat and put on and say and even omit, and the precise order in which we do all these things, so to reproduce and reenact accurately the same scenario in which we were the winners. Thus, if Brazil loses, it’ll be all our fault: we may have forgotten a crucial detail, and that’s enough to do us all in.
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