Friday, May 26, 2006

Portuzilia: Futebol, and the Crisis of Ethnic Identity

It's as cliched as it is possible to be: The World Cup isn't about sport, it is about tribalism. It is about old world vs new; about stallwart Europeans and South Americans vs upstart Asians, Africans and Americans; about ye olde enemy and the new world order. Sides are chosen, colours are flaunted, victories celebrated, defeats mourned, drunkeness encouraged.

In a city like Toronto, without its own surrogate soldiers marching as to war, allegiances are found in the lands of ancestors - or, at the very least, in the lands with a common language. These mercenary decisions are advertised via the now ubiquitous for every playoff series in North America car flags.

Fluttering from the rear of the family station wagon, or as a personalizing touch to a company vehicle, in Toronto these flags mean "My great grandfather was Polish - so from now until the end of the tournament, or until Poland gets ousted, I too am Polish." Of course, the link is often far more precarious than even that - a favourite player, a fondly remembered holiday, as a favour to a local merchant.

As a sports fan, I see these as perfectly legitimate reasons, all. As the holder of an Irish Passport who spent time living in England, I have supported both these sides in international competition - and at alternating tournies, flown their flags. However, there is one flagging scenario I cannot condone, one that I think may be unique to Toronto.

Portugal, for the uninitiated, have had "needs more effort" inscribed on their international football report card forever. The current "golden generation" of Portuguese internationals won a prominent junior tournament and have nothing international to show for all their high-flying, big earning club careers since.

Brazil on the other hand, share only one thing with Portugal on the football field - a language. They win often, with flair and really hot female supporters.

Interesting then, how Toronto's sizable Portuguese population and small Brazilian population seem to reverse proportions just around the time the World Cup comes around.

In fact, just yesterday, I saw a car flying both the Portuguese and the Brazilian flags. I can only assume it will be the standard trooping of the colours, with the Portuguese beating a hasty retreat as they are ignominiously dumped from the tourny.

Again, it's not that I have a problem with supporting more than one team. Only that I think it only right to support only one team at a time.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Are you sure you are only 8 years old? Your grammar is clearly at a grade 8 level. Keep up the good work little man.

10:58 p.m.  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm MicroBano, I'm a dumbass who just wasted 5 hours typing worthless crap on the internet.

I'm a pioneer!

10:59 p.m.  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Titile should be "Microbano:Blogger, and the Crisis of being Irrelevant"

11:35 p.m.  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I couldn't agree more.

11:50 a.m.  
Blogger microbano said...

8 years old. Grade 8. Think about it.

Section 1 - yes.
Section 2 - see section 1.

That title indicates a very different post.

With what?

1:21 p.m.  

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