How Do You Win A World Cup Game Without Even Playing? Ask A Fan

The World Cup has arrived in Brazil and with it a legion of superstitions and rituals that people practice in the belief it will help their team win. Fans have some very creative practices.

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MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

And now a story of superstitions on this Friday the 13, especially for those who have paraskevidekatriophobia - in World Cup action today, Mexico beat Cameroon one nill. The Netherlands beat the defending champions Spain 5 to 1. Yesterday, Brazil won it's match against Croatia 3 to 1. Everybody wants their team to win, and there are many rituals that fans say they use to make that happen. NPR's Lourdes Garcia-Navarro reports now from Sao Paulo.

LOURDES GARCIA-NAVARRO, BYLINE: From the Andes in Peru, where this shaman told Reuters that according to his prognostications - Brazil will win the World Cup. To here in Brazil where this Candomble priestess made her prediction to a local TV station after communing with the spirit God's.

UNIDENTIFIED PRIESTESS #1: Portuguese spoken.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: She says Brazil is going to do well and can be among the best. But unfortunately Shango, our deity, doesn't show that victory to Brazil will come in this World Cup, she says. Everyone wants to figure out who will win the world's largest soccer tournament. And many fans have their own rituals to ensure that their team scores to victory. At a Samba school, where Brazilian fans were watching the match yesterday - many of them talked of their own private superstitions. Pedro Rica is 29 when asked if he has any habits he at first denied it.

PEDRO RICA: No. I don't have traditions. I just watch. I don't have a superstition something like that. I don't have.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: But then he admitted...

RICA: I watch all the time all the games with the same T-shirt in the same place on my sofa and yes, yes - and I have the same beer.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: And when we asked why he does, it he gives a long explanation about Brazilian culture and emulating soccer stars. And then he stops and says...

RICA: I don't know how to explain this for you. Or why it should explain because I just do you know? I don't know why I do. But I just do this.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Michel Sergio Ferreira is 48.

MICHEL SERGIO FERREIRA: (Portuguese spoken).

GARCIA-NAVARRO: He says I have a flag that I wrap myself in that I've owned since Brazil won the World Cup in 1994 in the final against Italy. I always wear it when Brazil plays in the World Cup - at no other time he says, strictly. He says, it's my World Cup talisman.

We contacted a sportscaster, Marcelo Barreto, with Brazil's biggest network, Global, to see what the journalists there do. They should be too jaded to put any stalk in rituals. But he told us everyone there believes that they have to sit in the same chair for every match and stay there no matter what call of nature they may feel.

MARCELO BARRETO: If someone needs to rise to go somewhere people get desperate - you can't leave your place. Something wrong will happen if you leave your place.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: The superstitions are even practiced by the highest in the land - Dilma Rousseff, Brazil's President, has confessed that she knocks on wood before the match, crosses her fingers throughout the whole 90 minutes and in the really tense moments must stand up. It's got to work right? There are pictures of her during Brazil's game yesterday with her fingers crossed and her team won. Lourdes Garcia-Navarro, NPR News, Sao Paulo.

BLOCK: You are listening to ALL THINGS CONSIDERED.

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