Miami | Eyes turn toward Brazil when considering links between football and the pre-Lenten season. Rio and São Paulo clubs exist symbiotically with samba schools that parade to the sambadrome during the Rio Carnaval.
Yet a recent article in the South Florida Sun-Sentinel makes even clearer, from talking with expatriate Brazilians in Miami, the strong cultural connections among carnival, the African-Brazilian martial art of capoeira and futebol. Several thousand celebrated in Miami after the Brazilian victory in the 2002 World Cup finals, and carnival preparations are extensive among the some 200,000 Brazilians in the three-county area. Sunday-morning park football also provides a staple cultural activity for Brazilian men. Says Wagner Uchoa, founder of one of the area clubs, Boca Brazil Sports Club:
For them, it’s like church every Sunday. They can party all night long, but no one will miss it. It’s a passion. Soccer is inside your body when you are born. The first thing you get when you are a baby is a little soccer ball.
As for the Brazilian national team, its carnival festivities conclude tomorrow in Moscow, where they encounter Russia in an international friendly. Gametime temperatures of 9 degrees Fahrenheit are forecast.
Update: Miami’s Brazilian flair will find expression in Miami FC, featuring goal-scoring legend Romario de Souza Faria and midfielder Crizam Cesar de Oliveira Filho, or Zinho, 38, both of the 1994 World Cup–winning national team. Romario was expected to make his debut on 5 May. Miami FC also has an owner, Traffic Sports, with Brazilian backing. The team joins the United Soccer Leagues with a roster also featuring players from Guatemala, Haiti, Jamaica, Bolivia, Mexico, Colombia, Honduras and Cuba. Says goalkeeper Chris Doyle:
We can’t fool Miami soccer fans. There is such a large Latino population here, so much diversity, culture and passion for soccer, that I can feel the energy already. I think if we win, people will buy into us.