Subject: BRAZIL x ITALY ( of soccer and tennis )
Date: Mon, 09 Jun 1997 06:52:03 GMT
[French open: victory for the Brazilian Gustavo Kuerten] 


With your excuse I shall be very short about it, leaving it to the

The first Tennis Grand Slam tournament ever won by a compatriot made
of this last Sunday one of the most remarkable days of Brazil's sports

How nice to have a national representative among the 15 top ones of
tennis. Which other way could I have rescued an old passion for such
sport if not for some nationality iconism ? 

The effect of the change in the rackets material has long been felt as
lack of appeal in tennis: power overshadowing talent. 

Having followed the marvelous history of the great australians, plus
Nastase Vilas, Borg, MacEnroe and others, I had given up caring about
the boredom displayed by this generation of Sampras, Courier and other
living-dead machines. Women's tennis has thus become the only show to
be watched, with some enough non-predictable characters.

Thanks to Roland Garros and its respect to clay courts, a real
fortress to protect the beauty still available in the men's version of
tennis. A bit romantic opinion, I confess, and the younger ones have
no obligation to agree with me since the tennis they grew up with is a
different sport than the one I grew up with and just as legitimate in
itself. Different worlds, or different lenses to watch a same world.

Soccer ...

Tennis used to be my favorite hobby, total charge of individuality,
the ego fighting for full expression, trying to feed an unsatiable
instinct for a point. Technique without physical contact, without
collective responsibility. A battle against this same own ego, aiming
at balance as an only way to win.

Soccer seems a bit different. It is more lifelike. It is both
individual and collective and the way both interact and collide.
Passion vs brain, courage vs caution, skill vs force, discipline vs

Most often opinion makers will fold to either extreme and swear by it
as to defend an ideology. Very often the same is done only to mask
passion, allegedly a fan's privilege. Truth is unobtainable, and the
search for it always stumbles against immediacy. Facts are seen so
long as they're wanted to be seen.

So soccer is real world, those who live it and those who speak about
it as well are not free from this stirring of acts, thoughts and

The brazilian national team is a most peculiar thing. Except for the
tough days of World Cups and qualifyings, it is a less supported team
in this country. 
It is not important that Brazil wins. What really counts is whether
the team plays or not in the way someone wants it, and whether it has
the players most liked by someone's preferences. 
So the years which separate one WC from another are plenty with
intrigue, complaints, sabotage by ones and tenacious defense by

But what often goes unnoticed is that soccer, just like tennis, has an
own urge for balance, a quality that every living being searches for
by each and different paths. The winners are the ones closest to

Balance is not a still position, but one of a constant movement from
different and opposite forces. Perfection doesn't exist and the only
existing still balance is death.

So when the discussion is about playing "defensively" or
"offensively" there you have two extremes, either one missing the
point in its way.

A winning team is one which is capable to defend but willing to
attack, which necessarily implies the courage of taking risks. A
winning team will know the right moments to behave either way.

I've spoken way enough about this brazilian team, how individually
gifted it is and yet how collective poor it is. And how difficult it
is for brazilians to acknowledge such state of things.

I tend to believe that the brazilian team problems are of some kind of
institutional order. They are the result of the country's difficulty
to understand its own culture,  something far more complex than the
cliche' of "art-soccer" blindly defended by some, or the overcautious
approach defended by others. 
Rescuing the best of Brazil's soccer is far more demanding than what
our current coach believes he can help unveil.

The game against Italy, among the repetitive disaster at defense and
complete lack of play pattern still showed a few instants of light,
purely result of personal attitude in a ship without command.
Denilson was one of such, but why only now when we could soon tell he
was a better national team player than most others ? 

Romario's score was another one, but a solitaire one.

Brazil doesn't play beautiful, Brazil doesn't win. Brazilian coach
doesn't do any convincing work to aim at either targets. 
Again, the blame is bound to fall on the players, and flies will be
replaced for a same and stubborn BS.

Too much time has passed for no results, and as Zagalo has no
competence to make use of alternatives, our country's officials are
irresponsible and incompetent to let him piling up unlearned lessons.
As brazilian government is incompetent to truly wipe out corruption an
unlawfulness from brazilian soccer authorities.

In 98 I will certainly be cheering up whatever lost souls this Zagalo
may line up, it won't matter if Denilson, or Djalminha or Juninho, or
Rivaldo, or Giovanni or whoever else he "tries", or if this Leonardo
decides to play as center-forward to please his narcissism.

But thank God I'll be better off counting on another Guga's win at
Roland Garros.

Oh, yes, referee owed Italy still a second penalty.