The FIFA Confederations Cup has many virtues in the eyes of Brazilian fans. The Seleçao’s packed trophy cabinet always has space for a prestigious addition. And with South American qualifiers for the 2006 FIFA World Cup Germany™ coming up, there is the opportunity to blood some brilliant young players. In reality though, “revenge” is the first word that pops into the mind of your average football-crazed Brazilian fan when the tournament is mentioned. Despite regaining their world crown in Asia, Brazil’s 3-0 loss to the hosts in the Final of France 98 still sticks in the throat of most Brazilian supporters. The time has arrived to settle old scores.
"This competition means a lot to us because we will see a new team take shape,” says 26-year-old Corinthians fan Marco Neves. "The group stage will be easy, with opponents we should beat comfortably. And I’d love it if we could beat France in front of their own fans, to take revenge for 1998.”
Company manager Daniel de Souza, 25, who will be watching the games from his home city of Belo Horizonte this summer, is eagerly looking forward to a France v Brazil Final: "We want to erase the memory of that game back in ’98 and show Brazil were, are and will always be the greatest team in the world. That match was not played in proper conditions because of everything that was going on around the team.” The Cruzeiro fan is right behind coach Carlos Alberto Parreira’s squad selection: “Diego and Robinho, from Santos, are excellent players and need to be brought in gradually.”
All the fans agree that the national side has yet to reproduce the form they showed in Asia. Die-hard Atletico Mineiro fan Geraldo Ramos is hoping for “better performances than in recent friendlies” and picks out Turkey as “the team to beat, even if Cameroon can be dangerous too”. What about France then? The 58-year-old native of Belo Horizone has not forgotten: “I don’t really count that game in 1998, but I want to beat the French in front of their own fans.”
Language teacher Luis Foster is the exception however. The 38-year-old Palmeiras fan from Florianópolis prefers to dismiss the French connection entirely: “I don’t really care whether we meet France. After last year’s World Cup, revenge doesn’t come into it.”
Whether he stays so cool on 29 June, should the much-anticipated France v Brazil Final materialise, remains to be seen…