SAMBA SOCCER

Brazil’s soccer team players pose for a group photo before a friendly soccer game with England at Maracana stadium in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Sunday, June 2, 2013. From left to right, front row, Daniel Alves, Oscar, Neymar, Paulinho, Hulk, and Luiz Gustavo. Top row from left, goalkeeper Julio Cesar, Filipe Luis, David Luiz, Fred, and Thiago Silva.
AP Photo/Silvia Izquierdo, file

The world of soccer is full of irony, but Brazilians against soccer takes the cake! Who would believe that hundreds of thousands of Brazilians throughout the country are protesting against soccer and are calling on their fellow countrymen to boycott next summer’s World Cup in the country? This is a nation that is considered the greatest soccer-playing country ever, the land considered to have produced more great players than any other, with a people who pride themselves on this fact and the fact that it produced the greatest player ever, Pele. Brazil gave the world the most fluent, attractive and exciting moments in the game and its “Samba Soccer” is still the envy of the world. Brazil is the country with the unique record of being the only nation to win the World Cup five times.

Thousands of Brazilians, including many prominent ones, support the protesters, who condemn government spending on World Cup preparations. The protesters say too much money is being spent on stadiums, roads and housing for the World Cup and the Olympics in 2016 at the expense of improving poor living conditions for the masses. The crowds claim, among other maladies, that their homes are being displaced to build roads and that the housing being built will become high-priced condominiums, which won’t be affordable to the average person.

If there is a place where soccer holds the solutions to crisis – it is Brazil. The panacea is the Men’s National Team!

Brazil won the four-team Group A in the Confederations Cup, beating Japan (3-0), Mexico (2-0) and Italy (4-2) and seems heading for a showdown with world champion Spain, which also finished with a perfect record to win Group B by topping Uruguay (2-1), Tahiti (10-0) and Nigeria (3-0). Brazil must get by Uruguay in the first semifinal on Wednesday, and Spain must beat Italy in the second on Thursday. The final game is on Sunday, June 30.

Brazil’s match-up against Spain – which many are calling the greatest team ever, even better than the Pele-led 1970 Brazilian World Cup squad which was the first to win the World Cup three times to keep the original Jules Rimet Trophy – would be a chance to beat Spanish and disprove that claim and put Brazil back on top as the world’s best team, all-time and now. This match-up could very well be a preview of next year’s World Cup final and would pique the interest of everyone, including the thousands protesting now.

A Brazil victory over the Spanish giants in this Confederations Cup could be the panacea the nation needs now.

Brazil’s Paulinho controls the ball past Mexico’s Gerardo Torrado during the soccer Confederations Cup group A match between Brazil and Mexico at Castelao stadium in Fortaleza, Brazil, Wednesday, June 19, 2013.
AP Photo/Andre Penner

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