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Geopolitics

So Very Wrong For Brazilians To Root Against World Cup

Brazil's national sport of 'futebol' is the expression of all that is right in a sometimes troubled country. Plans by protestors to take out their anger on the World Cup are destined to fail.

In Ipanema, Brazil
In Ipanema, Brazil
Betty Milan*

SAO PAULO — Back in 1970, the watchword among those opposed to the reigning dictatorship was to cheer against the Brazilian soccer team at the World Cup in Mexico.

Of course, the whole plan came crashing down with the first successful attack led by Pelé, Rivelino and the others. Every goal from the Canarinhos (little canaries, one of the national team's nicknames) was duly celebrated, and when the team won Brazil's third World Cup title, the whole nation let itself go and came together in one big party.

This can be explained by the fact that Braaasilll!, the country of soccer, is different from the political entity. In the former, victory depends on talent, and it implies playing by the rules. But in the official country, there is room for all sorts of short cuts and trespassing.

Any attempt to sabotage Braaasilll in order to fight against the authority is contrary to our image and to the values that could transform Brazil into a developed country. In the game, the rules are the same for everybody, and there are no exceptions. Skills are a basic requirement, and the individual is celebrated. It is as important as the group, but in that case, individuality thrives without letting individualism prevail.

The game has a great educative function. It teaches respect for the rules and introduces the idea of limits, essential in citizenship. It is a powerful asset in the upbringing of children, as in its context, the law always applies and whoever fails to abide by it is always sanctioned. Indirectly, the game thus teaches us also to say no and to accept rejection.

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Soccer legend Pelé in 1960 — Photo: Nationalencyclopedin

In that sense, Brazil's anti-World Cup demonstrations go against the children, and it is good to remember that although the money spent on the event surpasses what was initially planned, it represents just one month's worth of the country's education budget. This figure alone should end all opposition to the Copa.

Besides, the game also exists to put conflicts on hold. In Olympia, where the Olympic Games were born, all hostilities, including ongoing wars, were suspended. Any action that would violate the truce was considered a crime and was duly punished.

We can of course find that many things are wrong in this country, but tackling the "status quo" by opposing the World Cup, on top of being useless, is masochistic. As football legend and current President of the UEFA Michel Platini said, it is as important for fans to come to the World Cup in Brazil as it is for Muslims to go to Mecca. Breaking the truce with political demonstrations would be a form of barbarism.

Now is the time to let our great popular culture event take place and to spread out the joy we have in ourselves, and which the rest of the world needs as well.

*Betty Milan, 69, is a psychoanalyst and author of many books, including O País da Bola (The Country of Soccer).

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Ideas

How U.S. Airlines Are Doing Cuba's Dirty Work On American Soil

American and Southwest Airlines have been refusing to allow Cubans on board flights if they've been blacklisted by the government in Havana.

How U.S. Airlines Are Doing Cuba's Dirty Work On American Soil

Boarding a plane in Camaguey, Cuba

Santiago Villa

On Sunday, American Airlines refused to let Cuban writer Carlos Manuel Álvarez board a Miami flight bound for Havana. It was at least the third time this year that a U.S. airline refused to let Cubans on board to return to their homeland after Havana circulated a government "blacklist" of critics of the regime. Clearly undemocratic and possibly illegal under U.S. law, the airlines want to make sure to cash in on a lucrative travel route, writes Colombian journalist Santiago Villa:

-OpEd-

Imagine for a moment that you left your home country years ago because you couldn't properly pursue your chosen career there. It wasn't easy, of course: Your profession is not just singularly demanding, but even at the top of the game you might not be assured a stable or sufficient income, and you've had to take on second jobs, working in bars and restaurants.

This chosen vocation is that of a writer or journalist, or perhaps an artist, which has kept you tied to your homeland, often the subject of your work, even if you don't live there anymore.

Since leaving, you've been back home several times, though not so much for work. Because if you did, you would be followed in cars and receive phone calls to let you know you are being watched.

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