Ruud Doevendans has been an official columnist for a Dutch club and owns one of the largest
collections of soccer videos containing hundreds of World Cup matches. We at PWC are proud to have him as
a columnist. He will share his views about the past, present and future of
the World Cup.
Read earlier columns
The peaceful banks of the Iparanga
It was a long wait before we came to know for which game we had obtained
tickets, but in the end it was worth it: Brazil-Chile. Two teams with great
players, and ....... South American atmosphere. Ronaldo, Rivaldo, Zamorano
and Salas were expecting us. In the first round of the World Cup 1998 in
France, we had attended Holland-Belgium, in the fabulous Stade de France in
Saint Denis. Holland-Belgium, always a scrappy affair, always a close match,
always a tense fight until the last minute. And it proved to be this time as well,
with the match ending in a 0-0 draw, troublesome Kluivert being sent off for
elbowing Lorenzo Staelens. And we were excited, for we had been at the World
Cup. This experience was the best we had ever had. We thought it couldn't
get any better. We were wrong, didn't know what was waiting for us later in
the tournament, in the Parc des Princes: Brazil-Chile.
June 27th, 1998. Although the game was only played in the evening, we
decided to leave early in the morning, since we faced a 500 km ride. Apart
from the game, we wanted to inhale the scenes on the Champs Elysées and
outside of the stadium. Rather ironically, in Paris we found a restaurant
called "Chile" where we could eat something and, most of all, see the
Italy-Norway match that was played in the afternoon. Later we took the
subway to the stadium, where we saw two former greats passing. Nobody
recognized the Italian captain of their World Cup team in 1970. Nobody,
except me. The Tower himself, Giacinto Facchetti. Standing all alone, no-one
beside him. The second, everybody recognized. And everybody went completely
nuts, a total migration. They all wanted to touch him, take a photograph, or
have a photograph taken together with him. But they couldn't reach him,
because he was guarded by four bodyguards. His name? Pelé! Two big stars,
both more than 90 caps, considered to be one of the best ever on their
positions, and still such a difference. Amazing!
In the stadium, we had our seats among many Brazilian fans. Lucky guys we
were. Just before the game, we experienced a fantastic moment, that I will
never forget: the singing of the national Brazilian anthem. I love this
song, the passion, everything, all it means to these people. And how they
were singing it, with their right hands on their hearts, with all they had
in them, all for their beloved country. I'm from Holland and we are sober,
coldblooded people. Such a difference, but so intense, so beautiful, it made
my flesh creep. I never experienced anything in a stadium that can match it,
or even come close to the way they live this song about the battle for
freedom of a heroic people and the sun of liberty shining it's rays on the
Brazilian country. And even now, when I watch it on video, it still touches
The game was decided virtually before it had started. Brazil was never going
to lose this encounter, at halftime it was 3-0 although all their goals came
out-of-the-blue. But nevertheless: 3-0! And the brave Chileans tried
whatever they could, they just were not up to Brazil, who finished without
playing at their highest level 4-1, with Ronaldo sometimes brilliant and
sometimes invisible scoring twice and thundering two more shots against the
post. Cesar Sampaio, unsung hero, also netted a couple of times. It was a
nice game to see, but it couldn't match the national anthem of Brazil. The
summit of this game was five minutes before kick-off.
It's simple. We, pale people from the Low Lands, don't know how to live
soccer. At least, when we compare it to how they experience it in the latin
countries. Oh yes, we like soccer, and when Holland is playing, the whole
country is wearing an orange shirt and a funny hat, singing the most silly
songs, but that's it. It's not a matter of life and death, let alone that it
should get more important than that, like famous Liverpool-coach Bill
Shankly once suggested. To Brazilians, the Selecao is the most important
thing in life. More important than their job, more important than their
money, more important maybe than their family. Sometimes more important than
life itself. And the Hino Nacional do Brasil is the Holy Song, that's for
sure. And deservedly!
Dos filhos deste solo és mãe gentil
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