There are low-flying F-16s and over 60,000 Brazilian fans celebrating their World Cup goals. I got my answer after Richarlison scored his second goal for Brazil against Serbia in the team’s World Cup opener at his stadium in Lusail on Thursday. And the F-16 did not exist. Between rioting and inviting fouls against opponents, Brazil continued to fascinate the stadium’s nearly 89,000 spectators. For either of these two goals, the noise level would have been well above what we experienced at the few football games and concerts held at Lusail Stadium.
Brazilians love soccer. Hands up on Sunday, and so are the rest of the world. And it’s no secret. When India’s Kozhikode and Pakistan’s Riari unveil murals, flags, and replica t-shirts bearing the names of Brazil’s greatest players past and present, you know it’s the Worlds Cup. And now Doha has been added to that list. Most of the Brazilian fans who gathered at Lusail’s stadium on Thursday night were not from Brazil. They have been dubbed “fake fans” by some Western media, but the authenticity and honesty of the group who saw and admired what Brazilian players have brought to football over the decades The height was not fake.
Brazil has won the World Cup five times, more than any other team. They lost two finals and finished third twice. Bringing fans to the court is a success, but it’s also swag and skill. Before continuing, he shivered when he thought of the most appropriate adjective to describe the performance. “I can’t remember when I started supporting Brazil, but I’m glad I did. It’s amazing how they continue to bring out their class of players.” Jordan’s Wraith reminded me of when and why I started following Men in Yellow. But the memory of this semi-final does not bring much joy to the fans. Instead, we hope samba brings joy to the desert this year.