There is one thing that no matter where I go, always happens to me. When I am travelling abroad, as soon as I say that I am Brazilian the conversations begin about Rio De Janeiro, football and samba. It is nothing new that the Brazilian National Team is not in their prime at the moment, but regardless of that, Brazil is still the country of football. No other nation has lifted the world cup trophy more than we have. I don’t think I have to mention the love, passion and determination of Brazilians to football and their favorite teams.
There is this one thing that drives me nuts when I am travelling. It always happens and there is nothing that I can do about it. Nothing. The moment that I mention, that I am Brazilian people begin talking about Rio De Janeiro, samba and football. As Brazilians we are in fact aware that the National team is not in their prime right now, but thank you for reminding us about it again. Especially in Germany I am only waiting for the 7-1 jokes. Regardless, Brazil is still the country of football. No other team lifted the world cup trophy more than we have – five times, in case you forgot. Brazilians all share a passion and devotion towards football and their favorite teams.
A study conducted and published by the Instituto Paraná Pesquisas (Paraná research institute) in December 2016 showed that only 19% of Brazilians do not support a club. That means 169 million of the 206 million population are both football fans and have a favorite team.
Football is passed on from generation to generation. You are born and made fan of a club. After that is taken care of, your parents will give you your name, it is equally important, a must have. That explains why I was such a huge football fan, even from a young age. Ever since I can remember, I was watching matches with my father. There were many other sports that I was introduced to, but football was the one that I fell in love with. Nothing less was expected of me and nothing less was the case.
My thirst for football was soon no longer quenched by Brazilian teams only and I needed more. I began watching other leagues and cups all around the world, the Premier League being the first. Countless weekends were spent watching game after game of all sorts of teams. It developed into a routine: First the international matches in the morning and then the national championships during the afternoon. Then in the evening I sat up with my father discussing the games, results, player performances and that was my favorite part of it all.
For a long time I simply kept watching as many games as I could before I finally started to be fond of one club in particular. I remember watching Manchester United, Tottenham, Chelsea, Liverpool and Everton, but the team that struck me was Arsenal London. It was just like true love, I cannot pin point when it happened, but when I realized I truly felt it and was completely into it. It was around the time of Arshavin, Clichy, Rosicky, Fábregas, Van Persie, Nasri and then I witnessed the comeback of the one and only Thierry Henry – one of my idols, despite hard feelings because of his goal against Brazil in the 2006 World Cup quarter finals.
My curiosity as a teenager made me become an Arsenal fan I believe. Hours upon hours were spent on the internet reading about the history of the club, looking for videos about “The Invincibles”. Another memory the comes to mind is how angry I was when the Brazilian TV channel discontinued the broadcast of Arsenal games, but that did not stop me, I just had to settle for the live scores instead.
After almost 10 years of being an Arsenal supporter, I can assure you that there were plenty of ups and downs – not only regarding the performances during the season. It was not always easy supporting an international team a few years ago in Brazil. Only a few TV channels used to broadcast the games and was living on a prayer that Arsenal would be the one game that was transmitted. After a while I lost count of how many times I was not able to watch the Gunners play.
Fortunately this is not an issue any more. There are a lot of cable TV channels in Brazil that are dedicated to international football and I can watch whatever I want, whenever I want.
However, to this day, I have never been at the Emirates Stadium. It is a dream that seems within reach more than ever currently. I have been closer than ever, in Berlin, when Arsenal was on the road in Munich. Of course I was wearing my jersey and supported the boys, but ultimately had to watch yet another crushing defeat.
On one hand I want to think that this will change, on the other hand having your hopes too high can backfire as well. In this sense Arsenal has shown me to keep my feet on the ground. Every season we begin by saying that “this time it will be different” and somewhere along the way we get lost and crumble. The task on Tuesday night seems near impossible, but I will never lose hope and keep supporting Arsenal, no matter what. We can keep dreaming and believing, right?