The great debate (cont'd)
Posted: Tuesday July 24, 2007 12:05PM; Updated: Wednesday July 25, 2007 10:26AM
But at least Micah is capable of engaging in some kind of rational debate, which may well not be the case with Carlos Bertulani.
"Your final comments about the Copa America are full of prejudice," he writes. "It seems you are too young and understand little about soccer. In the last 30 years, whenever Brazil played the jogo bonito, it has lost. Remember 1982, or the game against Argentina in 1990? Probably you don't. Maybe you should watch them on YouTube, or wherever. Diego Maradona would not be as famous if Brazil had won that game in 1990. And Brazil played much, much, better with the jogo bonito you like. Maradona got superfamous for winning that competition. Brazilian skills in that game? Completely forgotten. Sorry for the hard words. But you deserve it, because you have a powerful media in your hands. Very dangerous, and you do not even know it."
At 42 years old, it's quite encouraging to be told I'm too young for something. It doesn't happen very often, and I may have to insist on it in all future correspondence. But, please, not if it comes accompanied by this depressing mixture of arrogance, ignorance and downright idiocy.
How can a preference for a style of football be "prejudice"? Since when did Maradona and Argentina win the '90 World Cup? And as I pointed out in previous articles, Brazil's '82 side left me spellbound and I'm well aware of the consequences of its defeat on the development of Brazilian football.
In fact, the topic of '82 cropped up again and again in my mailbox. Eduardo wrote that he "and many Brazilian journalists believe that the 3-2 '82 loss to Italy in Spain's World Cup had the most devastating effect in how we can build a team. And the following '86 defeat in Mexico just made everything worse. After that, our coaches became more and more pragmatic, copying the European (German) style. That loss (known to us as the Sarria stadium tragedy of July 5th 1982), was the greatest cause of this horrendous system that we now use."
Horrendous or not, it gets results. Andre Jacobovitz probably spoke for the majority of fans all around the world when he said that, "I'd much rather win ugly than lose with jogo bonito. Winning is what matters. I want to see my team lift the trophy, not come up with multiple bicycle kicks, but fall in a quarterfinal."
But not everyone feels that way. My favorite e-mail came from Sandra N., who wrote the following: "I've seen a lot of football since I was a kid. And I take no pleasure in seeing my beloved Brazil becoming the new Italy. I despair at the hypocrisy of Americans and Brits who feel such moral outrage about [diving] yet have nothing to say about their acceptance of tactical fouling. To see Brazil become a team where that is now a principal, overwhelming tactic is very disheartening. I am not naive enough to believe it possible to return to the days of 1970, but surely there is a compromise between the beauty yet weaknesses of '82 and the brutal machine we saw in Venezuela."
My position exactly. So let's hope Brazil, and plenty of other teams, manage to find that perfect trade off between romance and pragmatism.