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Brazil is known as the country of football.
But it’s not, at least not according to this interesting study of attendances by Brazil’s Pluri sports consultancy.
Germany is first, with an average attendance of 45,083; England is second with 34,604 and Spain is third with 28,400. More people went to see games in the English and German second divisions than the Brasileirao.
The reasons are varied and have to do with the high ticket prices charged in Brazil, run-down facilities and insecurity in and around stadiums, and the large number of games shown on television.
The top 14 is here. (Country followed by total fans and average attendance)
1 Germany 13,795,286 45,083
2 England 13,149,676 34,604
3 Spain 10,791,927 28,400
4 México 3,877,500 25,343
5 Italy 8,330,161 21,921
6 USA 2,935,882 18,700
7 The Netherlands 5,954,191 19,458
8 France 7,167,940 18,863
9 England (Second Division) 9,969,699 17,899
10 China 4,242,026 17,675
11 Germany (Second Division) 5,266,941 17,212
12 Japan 2,204,074 16,572
13 Brazil 5,660,987 14,897
14 Scotland 3,163,154 13,873
Brazil and the US signed a defence deal yesterday.
The deal, which this Christian Science Monitor story says is the first between the two nations since 1977, opens the door to more interchange on research and development, logistics support, education and training, as well as making it easier to buy and sell defense products and services.
Although the ramifications of the deal are not yet clear, it behooves Brazil to form closer defence ties with the US.
In doing so, Brazil creates a link with the US that counterbalances some of the wackier things it has been doing in foreign policy field, such as cozying up to Iran and needlessly getting involved in Honduras.
And not only is the US the world’s biggest producer of weapons and armoury, it is also a valuable ally. As Fernando Arbache, a lecturer in anti-terrorism at Brazil’s Naval Headquarters told me in an interview: “With this accord Brazil is aligning itself strategically with the US, like the European nations have done with NATO.”
It’s a sensible bit of pragmatism on Lula’s part.
Following on from my post the other day about the US and Brazil and the topic of sex, I wrote more on the subject today for the Christian Science Monitor’s Global blog.
Everyone loves to read about sex and people’s views on it, right?
Here’s 500 more words on how the two countries are so alike and yet so different. It could really be a book. But this is plenty for now. More on sex another another time.
A documentary about the Simpsons round the world travels aired on Fox Sunday night to commemorate the 20th anniversary of Springfield’s best-known family. (There’s a link to the show here but it’s only accessible from the US.)
I worked helping producer Morgan Spurlock of Super Size Me fame to set up interviews and arrange locations in Rio. His company called me after seeing this piece I wrote in Time magazine about the truth and fiction behind the Simpsons controversial visit to Brazil in 2002.
On that trip, the Simpsons saw monkeys roaming the streets of Rio de Janeiro, Homer was kidnapped and Bart was eaten by a snake. Irony is a foreign language in Brazil and the country went crazy. (More here on Brazilians over sensitivity to criticism.)
Which made writing a piece vindicating some of the more outlandish tales all the more pleasurable. I had been planning to write something on Rio’s natural zoo for years, after repeatedly seeing pictures in the Rio papers of snakes, alligators, spiders and monkeys being rescued from pools and homes and roads. That Simpsons episode gave me the impetus to start gathering string.
Cariocas’ reaction to the episode shocked me and I was heartened to hear those in the know say Bart was not wrong. As I write in my Time story:
Firefighter Colonel Wanius Amorim remembers the Simpsons every time he catches a monkey in someone’s front room, drags an alligator from a back porch or gingerly lifts a snake from the street. For the commander of a Rio fire station nestled in the middle of the world’s biggest inner-city forest, saving wild animals is all in a day’s work.
“Bart was right,” Amorim says with a smile. “When foreigners say it, we get upset, but here in Rio we see alligators, sloths, snakes and monkeys all the time. To me, it’s something positive, it shows that the city is alive and vibrant, that nature has survived the arrival of 6 or 7 million people.”
I look forward to seeing Spurlock’s documentary soon. I believe he even visits Scotland. A wise man indeed.
The Sean Goldman case reached its denouement on Thursday, when the boy was handed over to his father at the US Consulate in Rio de Janeiro.
I got a lucky scooplet yesterday and was first to report that the case was essentially over. The lawyer for the Brazilian step family called round journalists to announce they would no longer be appealing the Supreme Court decision, and were essentially giving up their claim to the boy.
I must have been at the top of his To Call list and so Time was the first to get the story online (according to my reading of the timings on Google news.)
Sometimes we get lucky, whether it be getting a call first, receiving an important email before anyone else, or just being in the right place at the right time. On those occasions, it doesn’t matter how much leg work you’ve put in (and I only really started on this story last week).
It’s unfair and when you’re not the beneficiary it’s very, very annoying. But as my good old dad always said, It’s better to be lucky than good.
The Wall Street Journal has a piece today on the United States’ waning influence in Latin America. There’s nothing much new in it but there was one particularly interesting quote from Moisés Naím, the editor of Foreign Affairs magazine.
Talking of Lula’s meeting with Iranian leader Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and of Brazil’s role in Honduras, Naím said: “The world was hoping that it would become a responsible global player and stakeholder, but instead Brazil is behaving like an immature developing country with a chip on its shoulder.”
Brazil might have a chip on its shoulder (see my previous post about how Brazilians are thin-skinned). But it cannot be blamed for developing its own foreign policy. What’s more, if the US was smart, it’d be working behind the scenes with Brazil to help engage the Irans and Venezuelas of the world.
As one academic told me last week, “Brazil is perhaps the least disliked nation in the world.” Because of football, samba, and images of sun-kissed beaches and beautiful women, everyone loves Brazil. Brazil can use that influence.
The question that Naím should be asking is, What is Lula saying to the likes of Ahmadinejad and Chavez behind closed doors? And what is Obama telling Lula when they talk on the phone?
As the US gets weaker, it is having more and more trouble making smaller countries fall into line. As Brazil gets stronger, the US should be more diligent in courting it as a credible and helpful ally.