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Chris Linnares

Dose of Sanity for Living La Vida Loca: It's the World Cup, amigos!

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A lot has been said lately about the 2014 World Cup in Brazil: corruption, strikes, protest on the streets ... but I want to use this opportunity to talk about the passion it brings to the hearts of soccer fans all over the world, including the ones hidden in the vast plains of this beautiful land.

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As a Brazilian living in Fargo, I feel lonely in my soccer passion.

In many countries around the world, at this time of year you will see people decorating the streets of their towns, painting their faces and proudly wearing the shirt of their soccer team.

This week, as I was walking in downtown Fargo, the only glimpse I caught of this worldwide soccer fever was the text I received from my friend saying she was taking her daughter to “soccer” practice and would call me later.

I think even my own husband, a Fargo native, does not get the full dimension of this global event.

A few days ago, he couldn’t understand why I refused to go with him to an event later this month.

“I don’t get why you’re not going. It’s just because Brazil is playing Mexico?” he asked.

“Just because?” Did I hear him right? Did he use the word “just?”

My Brazilian ears couldn’t believe the words that came out of his North Dakotan mouth.

If I would share my husband’s sinful comment with my big fat Catholic Brazilian family, they would burn my North Dakotan “gringo” in the fire of the soccer fans’ inquisition with no mercy!

If you think the example above is too dramatic, you don’t know anything about the relationship between soccer fans and the World Cup, especially Brazilians.

The FIFA World Cup is the biggest single sporting event on the planet and the world’s most widely viewed – an estimated 715.1 million people watch the final match compared to 111.5 million people that watch the Super Bowl, “just” for example.

One of the reasons the World Cup is so special for fans like me is because it’s an international event that only happens every four years. It’s been going since 1930 and involves 32 countries among the 204 that try out.

Brazil has won the World Cup five times, and they are the only team that has played in every tournament.

When my husband, a proud Vikings fan, tries to compare the Super Bowl with the World Cup, for me, it is like trying to compare the fish bowl we have in our home with the ocean.

Sorry if I am breaking some football fans’ hearts out there, it’s not my intention.

My intention of expressing my soccer passion is to invite you, soccer fans or not yet, to join in on this spectacular event.

In many countries, just like in Brazil, soccer is a passion that transcends sport. It’s an unconditional love that passes from generation to generation.

The first time my husband met my father, he felt the power of the soccer supremacy in my family. Instead of asking questions like “What do you do for living,” my father asked, “Why did the USA steal the word ‘football’ from our game?”

My father was one of the biggest soccer fans I knew. In the 1950 World Cup when Uruguay won against Brazil in our own country, he became so sick from the loss that he ended up being the first person in his town to try the new antibiotic called “penicillin.”

At every family gathering, he would dramatically share his tragic story of almost losing his life over the gut-wrenching game.

No one could argue with him that maybe the reason he got sick was because of an infection and not because of the Uruguay soccer team!

One of his biggest dreams was to watch the Brazilian team win the World Cup in our own country.

I learned at an early age that soccer was much more than “just” a game, but a moment of unity, hope and passion, or more appropriately, a life and death experience. Even though my beloved father is not with us anymore, for me, the 2014 Brazil World Cup is a rare opportunity to give to my “papai” the cure penicillin could never give him.

So here’s to you, Papai! I can’t promise the cure of a Brazilian win, but I can dedicate this column to you today.

Thank you so much for giving me your undying passion for soccer and for life! I so wish I could see your happy smile and your contagious enthusiasm, but I know you will be cheering from heaven, while I am here, sharing one of the biggest lessons I learned from you:

“It’s not ‘just’ a game. It’s soccer. It’s the World Cup, amigos!”

Chris Linnares is international author, psychotherapist and founder of Women’s Impact, formerly Diva Connection Foundation. Originally from Brazil, she lives in Fargo with her daughter and husband Bill Marcil Jr., publisher of the Forum. For more information on Linnares’ work, visit www.chrislinnares.com.

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