„Winning against Argentina is the best!“

For the benefit of my friend Paulo, I’ll be writing this post in English. Even though Paulo’s German is excellent and his Dutch also. I kind of hate him for that. My Portuguese is permanently caught in between a multitude of grammar mistakes and bountiful swear words. And in Dutch I can literally only swear. Anyway.

My mother has been to Brazil once, in 2004. We spent a few days in Rio de Janeiro along the way, being led around town by Paulo, who graciously showed us his beloved city. Until today, my mum shows people two things when talking about her trip to Brazil. The first: Saying „That’s Niterói“ with a very disgusted face (Niterói shares the bay with Rio and isn’t loved much by Cariocas apparently). The second: Demonstrating extravagantly how Paulo threw a shoe at a television set. This was of course due to football.

Mum and I were glad when Paulo invited us to his apartment for the Copa de América final against Argentina. We had wanted to watch the final, but not necessarily in a crowded bar, since we feared that Brazilians wouldn’t deal well with losing against their biggest rival in the equivalent of a European Cup final.

For a while, this particular Brazilian certainly didn’t…. Argentina went into lead relatively early with a penalty, Paulo began incessant cursing in German, Portuguese and English. The shoe was thrown when Argentina led again, 2:1, after Brazil had started well into the second half by immediately equalising. Argentina scored their second goal in minute 87. Paulo threw the shoe and turned the TV off. We were quick to console him. „It’s just football“, mum said, a staple of hers I have heard and hated often.

Suddenly, the whole block of apartments erupted in cheers, Brazil apparently gave it their all against the arch rival. Paulo switched on again. Brazil scored the equaliser during injury time, in the very last moment of the game (if you want to hear what that sounded like, check out minute 2:30 of the video below). Mayhem broke loose in Paulo’s apartment and in the entire neighbourhood.

During most of the drama, mum and I looked out of the window into all the countless other buildings, watching entire families at the brink of suffering heart attacks with the Seleção to blame. It wasn’t easy on all of them, that football night. But, in penalties, when Argentina missed two, there it was: „BRAAAAAAAAAAASIIIIIIIIIIIIL CAMPEÃÃÃOOOOOOOO!“

The commentator, as beside himself as Paulo, concluded a glorious football night: „Ganhar é bom, más ganhar contra Argentina é bom demais – Winning is great, but winning against Argentina is the best.“ We drank a Caipirinha to that.

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