Domestic Division: World Cup Fever

Jungle meets the families preparing for battle as this year’s world cup arrives

The year of the World Cup. On one side of the sofa, the country that invented football. On the other, the five-times world champions. Bringing together these two sets of fans, England and Brazil, under the same roof can be risky, according to Andriele Franco, a model from Minas Gerais. A die-hard patriot, she came to London seven years ago and is now engaged to businessman Dominic List.

The typical Englishman, who had his five minutes of fame when he took part in the programme ‘The Secret Millionaires’ last year, is fanatical about football.

This will be the first World Cup they’ll watch together. “And it’s not going to be easy”, warns Dominic, “I’m extremely passionate about being English”. Andriele laughs: “but obviously I’m going to convince him otherwise. I believe that Brazilian passion takes… I know that we’re in his country and we need to show a little love for England too but, when it comes to football, it’s a big fight, because Brazil has to win. There’s no other way!”

According to List’s predictions, this year England will face Brazil in the semi-finals. “It will be a really interesting day. We’ll have to get two television sets for when our friends come round, one for our Brazilian friends and another for our English friends, in separate rooms. I don’t want to be there when Brazil lose and you start to cry, my dear”, he jokes. But Andriele doesn’t take the hook – in her opinion, England fans don’t even come close to Brazilians in terms of supporting their team. “I watched the last World Cup here and I didn’t feel what I feel when I’m in Brazil. I didn’t feel their strength. I saw an England match and a Brazil one on the same day, in the same pub. The English fans didn’t make a racket like us, they didn’t scream and shout!” Dominic sighs: “I’m going to take you to a real English pub for you to hear some shouting then”.

But not all Englishmen are as passionate as Dominic. Alex Pittas, married to Brazilian Anna Moreno for 19 years, supported Brazil even before he met his wife. Born and raised in London and magician by profession, Alex grew up knowing that Brazilian football had that special something. His father used to watch Brazil games and he ended up supporting the team from an early age. “Even though it’s my country, England just doesn’t play interesting football and, as a team, doesn’t stand a chance of winning the World Cup. They just don’t have what it takes”. Anna adds, laughing, “they don’t have the Brazilian charm”.

Max, their 12 year old son who has lived in London since he was 3 followed in his father’s footsteps. “I always support Brazil because they’re the best team. It’s more fun to watch them play than any other team” he says, to his mother’s pride. The controversy in the house is caused by the family’s youngest, Olivia Katherina, 10, who in the middle of the interview reveals that she intends to support England because all of her friends are English. Anna, distressed, asks: “My child, aren’t you going to support Brazil?”. These moments of surprise are common in families of mixed nationalities. English people that identify more with Brazil, or Brazilians who prefer to support England, like Olivia, who’s lived in London since she was 1, are the odd ones out at home.

Florist Michael Silliton, who has been married to Márcia, from São Paulo, for 20 years, is not convinced by Brazilian fanaticism. Even with his patriotic wife and their British-born daughters, Natasha, 14 and Luana, 17 supporting Brazil, Michael always supports England and, when things get tense, he finds the best thing is to distance himself in order to cool off: “When we watched Brazil against England in the 2002 World Cup and England was losing, I simply left the house”. Their youngest, Joseph, 10, laughs at his father, but when he realises he’ll have to pick one of the two teams to support this year, he says desperately: “but Mum, it’s too hard! Brazil are the best, but Dad’s all alone! Can I think about it for a moment?”

Michael realises, however, that he’s the only England fan in his house: “I’m so disappointed at my family, what’s wrong with you? To be honest, if we were watching the final and England were playing against Brazil, I don’t know what [the kids] would do. I don’t believe that they would genuinely support Brazil; I’d need to see it to believe it. They were born here, they are completely English – how can they not support their own country?”. At this moment, little Joseph chimes in: “I’m going to support both teams! Can I?”

There are also those who, above all, find these disparities amusing. Tiffany is Irish, |but lives in London. She supports Ireland, England and, if needs be, Brazil. Leo is Brazilian and there’s no other team for him, but he’s easy going about it. They’ve been together for a year and they like this melting-pot of support. “Some months back we were watching Brazil play Ireland at the Emirates stadium, Tiffany was wrapped up in the Brazilian flag and I was wearing an Ireland cap, but of course, I was actually supporting Brazil “, says Leo.

Tiffany confesses that she supports her boyfriend’s country a little bit: “that way I’m never sad”, she jokes. “Honestly, there isn’t that much rivalry between us and we take it all in good spirit. If Brazil win, great, but if they loose to her team, she’d be happy, so there’s no problem”, Leo reflects. Well, if Ireland’s footballing history is anything to go by, they’re destined to live happily ever after.

Quarrels and jokes aside, London has plenty of places to suit every type of fan. In a city which is home to so many different nationalities, it’s not uncommon for people to meet up with their fellow country-men and women to watch matches and to try and reproduce a little bit of the atmosphere from back home. So, whether you’re English, Brazilian, Portuguese, something else, or a little bit of everything, Jungle has picked out the best places for you to cheer as you please – just check out the dedicated guide we’ve put together, over the next few pages.

By Júlia Frate

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