World Cup culture

Cultural Insights — By on June 1, 2006 at 12:47 pm

It’s June – the month soccer/football fans around the world have been anxiously awaiting, for it means the start of World Cup ’06 (June 9).  With teams from 32 nations about to descend on Germany, it’s also a chance to look at how culture interacts with sports.

In March, I wrote about this topic in connection with the World Baseball Classic and the contrasting styles of Japan and Cuba.  The topic is equally interesting when it comes to soccer.  The NY Times has an article today about the Brazil team which notes the Brazilians’ unique style of play:

It has long been a maxim of international soccer that because of the grace, creativity and excitement with which Brazil plays, every fan has two favorite teams – his own national squad, and then, after it is eliminated, Brazil.

A few years ago, Joseph Page wrote a book called The Brazilians in which he discussed the intersection between soccer and culture in that country:

Soccer seemed to merge sport and samba.  During games fans often beat drums from start to finish, and in so doing they reinforced the rhythms of the players, who converted dribbling into a form of dance.  Their moves exuded spontaneity, one of the characteristics of the samba.

So what about other countries? Do you think culture influences a team’s style of play?

By the way, if you want to keep up with the World Cup, a few sites to check out include the World Cup Blog put together by BootsnAll, the NY Times’ blog about the event, and ESPN’s Soccernet.

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