Brazil | ‘Garbage will be collected selectively’

Naturally, such perspectives were not on display in the FIFA viewing theater. The bid committee, in addition to staged moments of personal testimony, aired a promotional film that brought to mind 16mm featurettes in seventh-grade geography class. Like the movie produced for Brazil’s bid, these school films were backed by bebop–style piano noodling. The late-afternoon screenings formed part of the inescapable torpor of a suburban life. Says the narrator of Brazil’s film:

The 2014 World Cup will be a great opportunity for Brazil to reaffirm its commitment to the environment. The target is to create an event with zero carbon emission. The use of clean or renewable energy will be a priority. Products will be recycled, and garbage will be collected selectively. Actions such as these are aimed at making all Brazilians, and especially young people, aware of the importance of environmental preservation. This is fundamental in a country with so much diversity of flora and fauna, abundant in hydrographic basins and rich in natural beauty.

What were Sepp Blatter and other FIFA suits thinking at this moment? “I had no idea about the hydrographic basins. What a great World Cup host Brazil will make!”

YouTube video

Coelho speaks for slightly less than three minutes at the bid presentation (video in Portuguese). “Your expression about the Brazilian mind-set was most apt,” writes a contributor to Coelho’s blog. “They live, eat, drink, think and dream football.”

Coelho’s connection to football is uncertain. As part of his promotional efforts for HP computers—Coelho says his laptop is a lifeline—he avers that he uses the machine to check “soccer scores.” But for which team? Clearly, the writer requires a network of Flash and database-savvy programmers to keep his amalgam of websites and blogs up and running.

His selection to Brazil’s prestigious literary academy was controversial, writes Glauco Ortolano in World Literature Today (“The Coming of Age of a Brazilian Phenomenon,” Apr–Jun 03). Critics disparage the “narrative simplicity” characteristic of such works as his blockbuster The Alchemist (1988), one of Madonna‘s favorite novels. “His message is also very simple and millennial,” writes Ortolano. “Happiness lies in finding ourselves.”

The release of emotions and living in the present number among Coelho’s core ideas, leading to the view that his work amounts to little more than thinly veiled self-help or life coaching. “All men in my view are like volcanoes,” he tells Ortolano. The man must “allow the lava in the interior to flow out.” In an e-mail exchange with Blatter following the 2006 World Cup—cynics would say that Coelho already was buttering the FIFA man up for the big sell to come—Coelho connects football with the human struggle to transform violent impulses “into a flow of light.” Football, if Coelho’s statements can be taken at face value, permits an alternative mode with which to express “instincts of competition, manhood, strategies, logistics, lust for victory” and so on.

FIFA provided the following spontaneous translation of Coelho’s remarks on Tuesday:

I’m here not to speak of Brazil’s economic improvements, of our big social improvements. That’s not why I’m going to talk. I’m going to say that today is the day where a victory has started, a victory that will last. Seven years [from] today we will be able to live up to our emotions. What we can identify in the Brazilian football squad we are going also to be able to identity among the Brazilian people: the capacity to work together. That’s what the football players do in the field. They are all working for one aim. Brazilians work hard. Brazilians will work hard to meet this challenge. We have also the capacity to dream and, most of all, to be creative.

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