Ruud Doevendans

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.

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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 me.

    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
Pátria Amada



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